Many military personnel and veterans are battling chronic pain, a condition that can be debilitating and difficult to treat.

Researchers found that of the more than 2,500 participants surveyed, 44 percent had chronic pain and 15 percent regularly used opioids, which is a much higher rate than the general population.

Opioid medications are often prescribed, but they’re not very effective for long-term pain and they have serious risks. Nearly 218,000 Americans died from overdoses related to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is leading an $81 million collaboration to carry out large-scale studies on ways to manage pain and related conditions for military and veteran health care. The twelve research projects will take place over the next six years.

The types of approaches being studied include mindfulness meditation, tai chi, yoga, massage, acupuncture, and behavioral interventions.

The research projects will provide important information about the feasibility, acceptability, safety, and effectiveness of nondrug approaches in treating pain within health care systems.

The published study looked at chronic pain and opioid use among U.S. soldiers following deployment.