Pill Popping in Combat
One major sign of the Vietnam War's deleterious effect on the U.S. military was the widespread abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs by troops in Vietnam. Such usage occurred among rear-area troops and combat troops, with bad consequences for both. Drug use went hand-in-hand with other aspects of disciplinary breakdown -- falsified reports, orders disobeyed, fragging, racial tensions, and so on. Those were the dark days of the military.
In Time magazine this week, Mark Thompson reports that drug use has become a major issue for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well. Except there's a major difference this time. Instead of getting high on illicit substances, these troops are taking prescription medications doled out by military medical personnel in order to stay in the fight. Thompson reports:
...For the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines. Data contained in the Army's fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope. Escalating violence in Afghanistan and the more isolated mission have driven troops to rely more on medication there than in Iraq, military officials say.
At a Pentagon that keeps statistics on just about everything, there is no central clearinghouse for this kind of data, and the Army hasn't consistently asked about prescription-drug use, which makes it difficult to track. Given the traditional stigma associated with soldiers seeking mental help, the survey, released in March, probably underestimates antidepressant use. But if the Army numbers reflect those of other services -- the Army has by far the most troops deployed to the war zones -- about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were on such medications last fall. The Army estimates that authorized drug use splits roughly fifty-fifty between troops taking antidepressants -- largely the class of drugs that includes Prozac and Zoloft -- and those taking prescription sleeping pills like Ambien.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: elgunjduts | June 6, 2008 1:46 PM
Posted by: rmarigny | June 6, 2008 3:53 PM
Posted by: Xixi | June 6, 2008 5:36 PM
Posted by: Josh Jasper | June 6, 2008 9:06 PM
Posted by: Buck Smith | June 6, 2008 11:21 PM
Posted by: ghostcommander | June 7, 2008 1:16 AM
Posted by: Zathras | June 8, 2008 11:51 PM
Posted by: MAJ Tanya Beam | June 10, 2008 12:27 PM
Posted by: Celexa USA Online Pharmacy US | June 21, 2008 12:25 PM
Posted by: Celexa USA Online Pharmacy US | June 21, 2008 2:55 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.