Prescription drug abuse by U.S. troops has risen significantly, with pain killer abuse within the previous year up 120% in 2008 as compared to 2005, according to new survey results that highlight the continued tolls of current wars and multiple deployments.
As detailed in the recently released results of a Pentagon survey of more than 28,500 troops last year, pain killer abuse among troops within the previous year was at 22% in 2008 in comparison to 10% in 2005.
Furthermore, 13% of U.S. soldiers admitted to abusing painkillers in the 30 days prior to the 2008 survey while only 4% of soldiers admitted pain killer abuse in the 30 days prior to a similar 2005 survey.
Based on the most recent survey’s findings, painkillers were the most abused drug in the military and used at nearly three times the rate of the next most abused drugs, marijuana and amphetamines.
The new Pentagon survey also revealed that roughly 25% of U.S. soldiers and 20% of Marines abused prescription drugs in a 1-year period.
According to other figures from last year, prescriptions of narcotic pain medications for injured or wounded U.S. soldiers increased from 30,000 to 50,000 a month since the beginning of the Iraq War in March 2003.
While often effective in treating many types of pain, painkillers carry the risk of physical dependency, making it extremely uncomfortable to stop taking such medication due to symptoms of withdrawal.