A recent Pentagon study revealed alarming rates of prescription drug abuse among active duty soldiers. The study revealed that an alarming 1 in 4 soldiers admitted to abusing prescription drugs, most commonly pain killers. A spokesman for the military stated that the prescription pain killers were being used for pain and also for “behavioral health issues”. (Source)
According to Mar 17, 2010 Army Times:
“at least one in six service members is on some form of psychiatric drug.“
Kenny Eastridge, a platoon member that PBS Frontline reporters spoke with who is in jail for murder and other crimes, was prescribed a cocktail of medications while in combat:
“I was having a total mental breakdown. Every day we were getting in battles and never having a break. It seemed like, it was just crazy,” he said. “They put me on all kinds of meds, and I was still going out on missions. They had me on Ambien, Remeron, Lexapro, Celexa, all kind of different stuff.” (Source)
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are the most common mental health medications prescribed to service members. Data shows that use of anticonvulsant drugs, also known as “mood stabilizers,” is growing even faster than antidepressants.
Seventeen percent of the active-duty force are on antidepressants, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist, told Congress on Feb. 24. [Note: The numbers are probably higher than estimated, since troops are also known to share and trade prescription drugs with each other, even while in combat zones.]
In contrast, about 10 percent of all Americans take antidepressants, according to a 2009 Columbia University study.
If these drugs helped relieve soldier’s trauma symptoms then prescribing so many might be justifiable. Unfortunately, research now shows these drugs are often useless: U.S. soldiers dangerously over-medicated with antipsychotic drugs.
Yet, our soldiers’ trauma is undeniable–and often leads to suicide.
Soldier’s suicide rates spike . . .
More troops are dying by their own hand than in combat, according to an Army report titled “Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention.” (Source)
“There is overwhelming evidence that the newer antidepressants commonly prescribed by the military can cause or worsen suicidality, aggression and other dangerous mental states,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who testified at the same Feb. 24 congressional hearing at which Sutton appeared.
From 2001 to 2009, the Army’s suicide rate increased more than 150 percent, from 9 per 100,000 soldiers to 23 per 100,000. The Marine Corps suicide rate is up about 50 percent, from 16.7 per 100,000 Marines in 2001 to 24 per 100,000 last year. Orders for psychiatric drugs in the analysis rose 76 percent over the same period.
Source: Army Times Mar 17, 2010
So prevalent have these psychotropic “murder drugs” become among the US Military that in November, 2010, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International issued an alarming report that, in part, says: (Source)
“In 2009 there were 239 suicides within the Army, including the Reserves, 160 active duty suicides, 146 active duty deaths from drug overdoses and high-risk behavior, and 1,713 suicide attempts, says the Army’s suicide report released in July.
More troops are dying from their own hands than in combat, says the Army report, titled “Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention.” Thirty-six percent of the suicides were among troops who were never deployed.
Also astonishing is the psychoactive prescription drug rate among active duty-aged troops, aged 18 to 34, which is up 85 percent since 2003, according to the military health plan, Tricare. Including family prescriptions, since 2001, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft have been dispensed, 38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil, and 12,047 for Cymbalta. All of the drugs carry a suicide-warning label.
In addition to the spike in SSRI antidepressant prescriptions, prescriptions for the anticonvulsants Topamax and Neurontin rose 56 percent in the same group since 2005, says Navy Times. The FDA warned last year that taking these drugs doubles suicidal thinking.
In fact, 4,994 troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., are on antidepressants right now, says the Fayetteville Observer. Six hundred and sixty-four are on an antipsychotic and “many soldiers take more than one type of medication.”
Troops may also be taking Chantix, an antismoking drug so linked to violence and self-harm that Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake was forced to defend its use before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in 2008 even in drug trials. Related Articles
“If you know the drug induces suicidal thoughts,” an unappeased committee chair Bob Filner, D-Calif., asked Rep. Filner, “Why don’t you just stop [prescribing it]?”
What if there’s a disruption in the supply?
Nearly 10% of the country or 27 million Americans are on mood altering drugs. Please understand that there is only a one month supply in the system. The kind of psychotic breaks that will happen if people come off these drugs too fast, en masse, could be catastrophic. (Source)
Despite evidence linking popular antidepressants like Prozac to suicide more than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 are now taking antidepressants prescribed by their doctors. In fact, antidepressants are now the most common drug among people aged 18 to 44, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Even more notable is the fact that once prescribed, individuals generally keep taking antidepressants for years. Over 60 percent of patients prescribed antidepressants report taking them for more than 2 years, and 14 percent for 10 years or more. This is unfortunate when the drugs meant to help depression actually cause further depression. (Source)
- Depression, Antidepressants, and Suicide Risk (everydayhealth.com)
- Prescription Drugs That Cause Depression (everydayhealth.com)
- Depression and Suicide – Breaking the Link (everydayhealth.com)
- Over Medicating Our Soldiers To Death (thetruthhaschanged.com)
- Could Your Treatment Make You Suicidal? (everydayhealth.com)