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  1. Docta
    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25557&stc=1&d=1334046771[/imgr] In a small but growing number of cases across the nation, lawyers are blaming the U.S. military's heavy use of psychotropic drugs for their clients' aberrant behavior and related health problems. Such defenses have rarely gained traction in military or civilian courtrooms, but Air Force pilot Patrick Burke's case provides the first important indication that military psychiatrists and court-martial judges are not blind to what can happen when troops go to work medicated.

    U.S. Air Force pilot Patrick Burke's day started in the cockpit of a B-1 bomber near the Persian Gulf and proceeded across nine time zones as he ferried the aircraft home to South Dakota.

    Every four hours during the 19-hour flight, Burke swallowed a tablet of Dexedrine, the prescribed amphetamine known as "go pills." After landing, he went out for dinner and drinks with a fellow crewman. They were driving back to Ellsworth Air Force Base when Burke began striking his friend in the head.

    "Jack Bauer told me this was going to happen — you guys are trying to kidnap me!" he yelled, as if he were a character in the TV show "24."

    When the woman giving them a lift pulled the car over, Burke leapt on her and wrestled her to the ground. "Me and my platoon are looking for terrorists," he told her before grabbing her keys, driving away and crashing into a guardrail.

    Burke was charged with auto theft, drunken driving and two counts of assault. But in October, a court-martial judge found the young lieutenant not guilty "by reason of lack of mental responsibility" — the almost unprecedented equivalent, at least in modern-day military courts, of an insanity acquittal.

    Four military psychiatrists concluded that Burke suffered from "polysubstance-induced delirium" brought on by alcohol, lack of sleep and the 40 milligrams of Dexedrine he was issued by the Air Force.

    In a small but growing number of cases across the nation, lawyers are blaming the U.S. military's heavy use of psychotropic drugs for their clients' aberrant behavior and related health problems. Such defenses have rarely gained traction in military or civilian courtrooms, but Burke's case provides the first important indication that military psychiatrists and court-martial judges are not blind to what can happen when troops go to work medicated.

    After two long-running wars with escalating levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures recently disclosed to the Los Angeles Times by the U.S. Army surgeon general. Nearly eight percent of the active-duty Army is now on sedatives and more than 6 percent is on antidepressants — an eightfold increase since 2005.

    "We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now. ... And I don't believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military is a coincidence," said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist who hosts an annual conference at Camp Pendleton, in Southern California, on combat stress.

    The pharmacy consultant for the Army surgeon general says the military's use of the drugs is comparable to that in the civilian world. "It's not that we're using them more frequently or any differently," said Col. Carol Labadie.

    But the military environment makes regulating the use of prescription drugs a challenge compared with the civilian world, some psychologists say.

    Follow-up appointments in the battlefield are often few and far between. Soldiers are sent out on deployment typically with 180 days' worth of medications, allowing them to trade with friends or grab an entire fistful of pills at the end of an anxious day. And soldiers with injuries can easily become dependent on narcotic painkillers.

    "The big difference is these are people who have access to loaded weapons, or have responsibility for protecting other individuals who are in harm's way," said Grace Jackson, a former Navy staff psychiatrist who resigned her commission in 2002, in part out of concerns that military psychiatrists even then were handing out too many pills.

    For the Army and the Marines, using the drugs has become a wager that whatever problems occur will be isolated and containable, said James Culp, a former Army paratrooper and now a high-profile military defense lawyer. He recently defended an Army private accused of murder, arguing that his mental illness was exacerbated by the antidepressant Zoloft.

    "What do you do when 30-80 percent of the people that you have in the military have gone on three or more deployments, and they are mentally worn out? What do you do when they can't sleep? You make a calculated risk in prescribing these medications," Culp said.

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25558&stc=1&d=1334046771 [/imgl]The potential effect on military personnel has special resonance in the wake of several high-profile cases, most notably the one involving Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 17 civilians in Afghanistan. His attorneys have asked for a list of all medicines the 38-year-old soldier was taking.

    "We don't know whether he was or was not on any medicines, which is why (his attorney) has asked to be provided the list of medications," said Richard Adler, a Seattle psychiatrist who is consulting on Bales' defense.

    While there was some early, ad hoc use of psychotropic drugs in the Vietnam War, the modern Army psychiatrist's deployment kit is likely to include nine kinds of antidepressants, benzodiazepines for anxiety, four antipsychotics, two kinds of sleep aids, and drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a 2007 review in the journal Military Medicine.

    Some troops in Afghanistan are prescribed mefloquine, an antimalarial drug that has been increasingly associated with paranoia, suicidal thoughts and violent anger spells that soldiers describe as "mefloquine rage."

    "Prior to the Iraq war, soldiers could not go into combat on psychiatric drugs, period. Not very long ago, going back maybe 10 or 12 years, you couldn't even go into the armed services if you used any of these drugs, in particular stimulants," said Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist who has written widely about psychiatric drugs and violence.

    "But they've changed that. ... I'm getting a new kind of call right now, and that's people saying the psychiatrist won't approve their deployment unless they take psychiatric drugs."

    Military doctors say most drugs' safety and efficacy is so well-established that it would be a mistake to send battalions into combat without the help of medications that can prevent suicides, help soldiers rest and calm shattered nerves.

    Fueling much of the controversy in recent years, though, are reports of a possible link between the popular class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — drugs such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, which boost serotonin levels in the brain — and an elevated risk of suicide among young people. The drugs carry a warning label for those up to 24 — the very age of most young military recruits.

    Last year, Culp's client, Army Pfc. David Lawrence, pleaded guilty at Fort Carson, Colo., to the murder of a Taliban commander in Afghanistan. He was sentenced to only 12 ½ years, later reduced to 10 years, after it was shown that he suffered from schizophrenic episodes that escalated after the death of a good friend, an Army chaplain.

    Deeply depressed and hearing a voice he would later describe as "female-sounding and never nice," Lawrence had reportedly feared he would be thrown out of the Army if he told anyone he was hearing voices — a classic symptom of schizophrenia. Instead, he'd merely told doctors he was depressed and thinking of suicide. He was prescribed Zoloft, for depression, and trazodone, often used as a sleeping aid.

    The voices got worse, and Lawrence began seeing hallucinations of the chaplain, minus his head. Eventually, Lawrence walked into the Taliban commander's jail cell and shot him in the face.

    "They give him this, and they send him out with a gun," said his father, Brett Lawrence.



  1. scartissue_68
    Thank you Docta.

    Drugs have always been part of war and always will be. We need to include ethanol when discussing drugs, soldiers and war. One example: In WWII, members of the 8th AF were given a shot of Brandy before taking off for daylight raids over Germany. Who would question that, knowing one of four of each flight crew was not coming back.

    Today we're just now touching the the rim of a huge problem for returning vets, coming home from the Mid-East. All who faced combat with rules of engagement will carry some battle scars.

    There is much to learn about how those of us who did not serve can do to help those who did. Many on this forum are also familiar with which drugs cause certain reactions and what mental problems look like. We are probably better equipped than some psych-docs to recognize the symptoms and help our soldiers reintegrate into the non-reality of the "Big PX". Think about what you will do when your time arrives. That time is coming...very soon.
  2. DF118
    check out " the wounded Platoon" documentary film on pirate bay, about us marine on ambain and anti pychs vry good doc.
  3. kailey_elise
    While that may be true (I have no idea; I'm not suggesting you're lying or anything), you have to admit there's quite a difference between someone taking a shot of liquor before flying & sending someone to Afghanistan with a bottle containing 720 1mg Xanax (alprazolam) tablets (that's 4x/day with a 6 month prescription), particularly with little to no supervision.

    I don't have an answer, I'm just saying we can't call the two situations even. :) I also agree that very real issue of alcohol abuse/alcoholism is not given nearly enough attention, and needs to be discussed when discussing "drug use/misuse/abuse."

  4. scartissue_68
    Kaily -

    I was pretty tired when I wrote my original reply. I was only trying to use a single example that I knew to be true. I was not intending to make a equilateral comparison to today's multi-drug regimen provided by military docs. I should have been more thorough, giving more examples. So, that said, I agree with your point completely. I only wanted others to consider alcohol is the overwhelming drug of choice for soldiers and officers and that drugs and war have always gone hand in hand.

    During Vietnam, soldiers self medicated everything from high-grade (for the day) pot to 90% pure Heroin. Remember, back in the 60's, the "Golden Triangle" of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia was the Opium Production Capital of the World. While these drugs were not given to the soldiers by their superiors, the military and medical leadership generally turned a blind eye and I personally know Vietnam soldiers who came home addicted. They received virtually no help from the VA, society rejected their service and often labeled them "baby-killers". Many, lost and alone, these soldiers continued to self medicate back here in the States. Without a supply of hard drugs, they turned to alcohol to relieve the pain of PTSD.

    Again, in WWII, the Germans Soldiers were sent into battle on Benzedrine, one of the original Amphetamines. The Generals wanted "Jacked-Up" robo-soldiers, the doctors cooperated.

    The US Civil War saw the miracle of Morphine and the hypodermic syringe. This provided a totally new, enhanced way to treat the excruciating pain from battle and post-battle "meatball surgeries". The problem was that the docs thought they were doing a good thing by continuing medications long after it was needed. (Sound familiar?) The result was many soldiers came home with "The Soldier's Disease". Today we call that addiction.

    Going further back in history, Opium and alcohol were often administered for the purpose of disinhibiting warriors to the fear of combat.

    ..and then there is the Drug of War itself. As shown in the movie "Hurt Locker", there's only one place some soldiers feel they are anchored in reality and that's high on adrenaline in the face of death.

    These are just a few examples I should have included in my initial post.

    Thanks for pointing out my deficit. Lesson learned.

  5. Eeeee Dub!!!
    I had some pretty interesting experiances on ambian while in afghanistan. I also saw a tent mate freak out and start seeing small dogs in the tent after ambian use. Considering we all had loaded wepons at the time I'm kinda amazed there weren't any accidents.

    This brings up an interesting point. They were more than happy to hand out ambian or dexidrine but we couldn't have a beer. Guns and alcohol don't mix they told us... but guns and drugs do???
  6. scartissue_68
    I spent 8 days in Iraq. August, 2006. Video Documentary Production.

    On one of the FOB's we visited, there was a "Blue on Blue" incident in which an American soldier accidentally shot a Polish camp-mate. They were both high on drugs at the time. Good old ethanol. Seems the Poles didn't have our "respect" for Islam and allowed booze on the FOB.

    Both were busted. The American got in more trouble for breaking the "Booze Code" directive than for shooting the Polish guy in the arm.

    As you point out from the Afghan perspective, the rules of engagement concerning drugs in the Mid-East war zones are the definition of paradox, but then so is most of the story of drugs in war.

  7. Basoodler
    Hash was available in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the price of one playboy mag.. I was offered.what I think were aminitas in Afghanistan.. I never took anything, but it was not uncommon to find used pipes in tents after units had moved on

    I was there late 2001 and early 2002.. Rules were not very established at the time
  8. sassyspy
    The first thing that comes to my mind is this; military drug use has been admitted to in the past (scar pointed out most), and I am certain those admissions were highly governmentally orchestrated.
    Why now, is it 'suddenly' coming to light? This drugging of our military personnel isn't new. How is the government orchestrating it, and why? I'm sure there is a reason this information has been allowed to surface.
    What that Breggin guy says is exactly the propoganda we have been fed.

    Ok, so that's my government -wary, paranoid persona, opinion.

    My more rational side wonders really, how much different from alcohol it really is, in terms of how it affects each individual. We've all seen the person who becomes someone else when drinking, doesn't remember behaviors or activities, and may engage in violent or illegal deeds.

    For those of us who are actually HELPED by drugs such as those named, stories like this only end up really, hurting us. Eventually the drugs get harder to obtain, heavier restrictions are placed on prescribing authorities, etc. But the government continues right along its merry way, continuing as they want to do, whether they do it covertly or not.

    Remember when pain pills were easy to get?

    I rest my case.
  9. oceansurf

    I think the use of Dexedrine in the case of war is a lot safer then alcohol. You’re more sober and your judgement isn’t as impaired. Say you’ve had a few beers, even one the soldiers may choose to do something random and stupid just because he can and he is intoxicated. Where as the Dexedrine will give the soldier a more concentrated feeling and he will be set to the task. What I’m saying is that amphetamines feed concentration and kind of help judgement (not saying everyone) where as alcohol induces you to be random, spontaneous and not yourself.
    I don’t agree with war, if the government has the ability to hand out drugs freely to soldiers then they support amphetamines, xanax so forth. Where’s the research into the production of more amphetamine based products.
  10. enquirewithin
    Prolonged use of amphetamines makes people paranoid and severely impairs their judgement.
  11. scartissue_68
    I have a few thoughts, backed up by the experience of working with and around vets of OIF 05-06.

    First the "Why". We have an all volunteer military. This means that without the power to replenish the supply of soldiers with "drafting" new people into military service, our only choice is to continue to send the same men and women back into deployment. This is also why there is a disproportionate number of National Guard being used as front line soldiers. We also pay them comparatively large re-upping bonuses to keep them employed as our warriors. Second we have taken (odd word to use here) fewer casualties, by far, than our previous undeclared wars in Korean and Vietnam. This mean more of the same soldiers returning to the exposure of the "fog of war" and more PTSD for those being used in multiple deployments. So, in order to keep troop strengths up (Obama sent an additional 30,000 to Afghanistan just as we were leaving Iraq) many must be medicated in order that they be deemed "fit" for duty.

    The "How" is an obvious extension of the "Why". VA docs are merely following orders and as "acceptable for service" psychological profiles are are lowered to keep the stream of troops flowing back into War, medication becomes the easiest tool for docs to use. Long-term counseling is simply too inefficient.

    The reason we know about this isn't some government conspiracy of propaganda. It's that in the past 10 years too many men and women have returned to the US (and other coalition countries), telling the same stories. These stories get reported in what's left of our free press, so even though the press opinions are biased left or right, they all end up reporting the basic truth of what's happening with our troops and the use of psychotropic drugs.

  12. Holydiver
    In the 1960's, in the middle of the cold war, Canadian pilots were giving cocaine to give them that "edge" in the event of an all out war. This was fine and dandy until one pilot shot down his wing man thinking he was a Russian mig. Giving drugs to soliders such as stimulents has its upsides but as you can see it leads down a very dark path.
  13. scartissue_68
    Please do not think I'm calling you out, but this sounds very suspicious. We've known about Cocaine's mechanisms of action for centuries. Why would it be used to enhance mental acuity for only 10-15 minutes? Amphetamines were used in WWII and continue to be the DOC for US long-range, aerial bombing missions.

    Do you have any attribution or more intel on this story. I'm very curious.

    I do agree (generally) with your concluding opinion.
  14. enquirewithin
    Whilst this is obviously true, it would not be necessary if the US wasn't continually at war.
  15. scartissue_68
    Roger that. I sincerely hope I didn't sound as though I was supporting our last 10 years of war in the Mid-East.

    I will say that our attacking Al Qaeda in Afghnaistan was righteous in response to the 9/11 attacks in the US and our continuing the war against the Islamo-Facists following The London Subway Bombing and the Train Bombings in Spain was also necessary. But, with Al Qaeda badly disabled and most all their leaders in prison, that mission was over. The diversion into Iraq and attempting to build an Afghan nation that doesn't want to be a nation was indeed a huge mistake and a great waste of humanity and money.

    Thanks for your response. I obviously needed to clarify my position on this issue.

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