Nov 14 9:01 PM

The military’s drug problem

(photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Stream (Al Jazeera)

Does the military have a drug problem? The Department of Defense spends billions on drugs to treat mental illnesses and reduce pain. But, veterans have high rates of accidental overdose and a suicide rate double that of the civilian population, raising concerns about the possible overprescribing of drugs. Join us at 7:30pm ET as we break down the military’s prescription drug epidemic. 

On this episode of The Stream, we'll speak to:

Stephen Xenakis @SteveXen

Ryan Holleran @norcalinola 
Organizer, Iraq Veterans Against the War  

Luanne Torre
Mother who lost her son to accidental overdose 

The Stream invited the millitary and the Department of Veterans Affairs to appear on the show. They declined, but a VA spokesperson provided The Stream the following statement:

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) highest priority is the health and well-being of the Veterans who have served this Nation.  The Veterans Health Administration has worked aggressively to promote and improve the safe and effective use of opioid therapy for Veterans with acute pain, cancer pain, and chronic pain.  Potential benefits of a medication and possible side-effects are discussed between the Veteran and their health care team—providing flexibility of treatment that’s in the best interest of the Veteran.  VA takes seriously the responsibility to balance the need of Veterans with pain and the potential dangers of prescription medications, including opioids.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects about 16% of the 1.3 million service members who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, the military has started prescribing increasingly higher amounts of painkillers and psychiatric drugs. 

This infographic shows the sharp increase in opiate prescriptions. 


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