U.S. military: Heavily armed and medicated...

By enquirewithin · May 21, 2009 · ·
  1. enquirewithin
    Marine Corporal Michael Cataldi woke as he heard the truck rumble past. He opened his eyes, but saw nothing. It was the middle of the night, and he was facedown in the sands of western Iraq. His loaded M16 was pinned beneath him.

    Cataldi had no idea how he'd gotten to where he now lay, some 200 meters from the dilapidated building where his buddies slept. But he suspected what had caused this nightmare: His Klonopin prescription had run out.

    His ordeal was not all that remarkable for a person on that anti-anxiety medication. In the lengthy labeling that accompanies each prescription, Klonopin users are warned against abruptly stopping the medicine, since doing so can cause psychosis, hallucinations, and other symptoms. What makes Cataldi's story extraordinary is that he was a U. S. Marine at war, and that the drug's adverse effects endangered lives — his own, his fellow Marines', and the lives of any civilians unfortunate enough to cross his path. "It put everyone within rifle distance at risk," he says.

    In deploying an all-volunteer army to fight two ongoing wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has increasingly relied on prescription drugs to keep its warriors on the front lines. In recent years, the number of military prescriptions for antidepressants, sleeping pills, and painkillers has risen as soldiers come home with battered bodies and troubled minds. And many of those service members are then sent back to war theaters in distant lands with bottles of medication to fortify them.

    According to data from a U. S. Army mental-health survey released last year, about 12 percent of soldiers in Iraq and 15 percent of those in Afghanistan reported taking antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or sleeping pills. Prescriptions for painkillers have also skyrocketed. Data from the Department of Defense last fall showed that as of September 2007, prescriptions for narcotics for active-duty troops had risen to almost 50,000 a month, compared with about 33,000 a month in October 2003, not long after the Iraq war began.

    In other words, thousands of American fighters armed with the latest killing technology are taking prescription drugs that the Federal Aviation Administration considers too dangerous for commercial pilots.Military officials say they believe many medications can be safely used on the battlefield. They say they have policies to ensure that drugs they consider inappropriate for soldiers on the front lines are rarely used. And they say they are not using the drugs in order to send unstable warriors back to war.

    Yet the experience of soldiers and Marines like Cataldi show the dangers of drugging our warriors. It also worries some physicians and veterans' advocates. "There are risks in putting people back to battle with medicines in their bodies," says psychiatrist Judith Broder, M. D., founder of the Soldiers Project, a group that helps service members suffering from mental illness.


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  1. old hippie 56
    Reckon this is the reason that the Dept. of Homeland Security said that our war veterans are a threat?
  2. Bajeda
    Interesting topic. Would love to see a less superficial investigation into it.
  3. Scrubbs
    Oh yea, get the soldiers addicted to opiates and send them to the country where massive amounts of opium and heroin are being produced and smuggled. That is a great idea! Sounds like the perfect way to increase the probability that a soldier would decide to smuggle something.

    Maybe I am wrong, just speculating.
  4. johnnyyen
    SWIM is reminded of the reports he read back in the day about many many hundreds of Russian soldiers returning from Afghanistan with heroin habits..a source many believe of the massive problem Russia now has with opiate addicition
    He wonders how many western troops will be packing a monkey into their kit when they return?...if they are going out there with prescription drug habits it is perhaps more likely they will pick up additional ones whilst there??
  5. EscapeDummy
    This was interesting with amphetamines in world war 2, and it's still interesting now. I feel that the general public and especially the soldiers should have more information on this subject. And "There are risks in putting people back to battle with medicines in their bodies" should honestly be rephrased as 'there are risks in putting people back to battle in altered states of mind'...
  6. enquirewithin
    Tons of amphetamine were used in WW2 (even by Hitler himself). The idea of a soldier with PTSD, very nervous already and loaded with drugs, especially stimulants, is a terrifying idea. The only way to stop this is to stop wars! None of the wars the US in is engaged are necessary or legal.
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