Prescription Drug Addiction | Narcotic Painkillers Abuse

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Prescription Drug Addiction/Abuse

Effective Action Needed To Handle Military Prescription Drug Addiction & Abuse

Soaring Widespread Over-prescribing of Narcotic Painkillers

After years of surveys and studies, “aggressive initiatives”, and even a 2008 Congressional directive to the Pentagon to do something about it, widespread over-prescribing—and outright abuse—of narcotic painkillers continue to soar among America’s military personnel.

3.8 Million Narcotic Painkillers Prescriptions for Service Members

A new report in USA Today says military doctors wrote almost 3.8 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers for service members in 2009—more than four times the 866,773 prescriptions written in 2001.

A Pentagon survey from 2008 (but not released until this year) reveals that one out of every four soldiers admitted to prescription drug abuse, mostly narcotic pain relievers, in the 12 months prior to the survey. And another 15 percent said they had abused drugs in the 30 days prior to the survey.

Other reports published in recent years describe how prescription drug addiction has reached deep into all the armed forces, affecting thousands of personnel.

Prescription drug abuse among soldiers is old news

“These are stunning statistics,” said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., in the USA Today story. Webb says he intends to “look into the issue next week” when a Senate subcommittee hearing will hear testimony from the Surgeons-General of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

“I would really like to dig down in the data here and get their thoughts about what is driving this,” Webb added.

Webb might find them stunning, but this is old news, plain and simple. He has not been paying attention.

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Narcotic Painkillers — The Most Abused Drug In The Military

At least five years ago, a survey revealed that narcotic painkillers were the most abused drug in the military. A 2005 report said dozens of injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq were reported suffering from prescription drug addiction as a result of over-prescribing narcotic painkillers to manage pain.

Two years ago, the same reporter in USA Today reported an almost identical story on the military’s soaring prescription drug abuse and addiction and quoted similar cries for reform, but from a completely different set of officials.

In that earlier article two years ago:

  • Army officials said aggressive efforts will be taken to manage prescription drug addiction, abuse and over-prescribing
  • The Army and Marine Corps claimed to be testing new prescription drug dispenser machines to prevent illicit obtaining of drugs
  • Colonel Skip Buckenmaier, the Army’s chief of pain management, urged the creation of a research center to train doctors in better pain management
  • Congress directed the Pentagon to develop pain care initiatives for all its hospitals.

We aren’t surprised that the new story ignores the old one, given the media’s blinders when it comes to dealing with narcotic prescription drug addiction in this country—and that includes the military. Everyone involved—the Pentagon, Congress, USA Today and the rest of the mass media—all have their heads in the sand.

Prescription drug addiction, crime and death hits the military too

After years of empty promises, nothing effective has been done by the Pentagon or by Congress to address prescription drug abuse and prescription drug addiction among our military personnel.

It’s true that one might expect to see considerable use of narcotic painkillers considering the physical toll on our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there are just too many narcotic painkiller addictions, sudden unexpected deaths, tragic suicides, and instances of drug-related crimes, among our service personnel.

All this does is tell us that our military is no better off than the general public when it comes to drugs like OxyContin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and all the other opioid painkillers.

There are even reports of numerous service personnel being discharged suffering from prescription drug addiction acquired during medical treatment who now can’t get treatment for their addictions.

We urge the Pentagon to provide medical drug detox for those servicemen and women afflicted with prescription drug addiction. And we hope that the Surgeon Generals’ testimony to Congress this week will lead to some real action, instead of a PR smokescreen and more cover-up.

NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.

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