#1 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

So I just read this article over at the NY Times.

According to data not reported on until now, the military evidently responded to stress that afflicts soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan primarily by drugging soldiers on the front lines. Data that I have obtained directly from Tricare Management Activity, the division of the Department of Defense that manages health care services for the military, shows that there has been a giant, 682 percent increase in the number of psychoactive drugs — antipsychotics, sedatives, stimulants and mood stabilizers — prescribed to our troops between 2005 and 2011. That’s right. A nearly 700 percent increase — despite a steady reduction in combat troop levels since 2008.

So basically it appears to be commonplace that the military is using the wrong treatments to "help" soldiers and it's not like these soldiers are off duty.

Note that the military uses antipsychotic drugs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, even though there is but weak evidence that these drugs effectively treat it. A recent randomized, controlled clinical trial involving nearly 300 veterans found that the antipsychotic risperidone was no better than a placebo as an adjunct in treating PTSD. Yet in 2007, PTSD was the most common off-label diagnosis for those, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, treated with psychoactive medications.

I'm honestly speechless and appalled in how the military thinks that it is ok to handle a delicate matter with what is essentially a fucking sledgehammer in some sick attempt to fast track "recovery". Antidepressants are the usual candidates to help cases of PTSD and depression but the effects are not instantaneous when compared to something like an anti-psychotic (which are not known to be effective forms of treatment for any of these cases) and then there's the need for therapy which I'm sure would just get in the way and prolong a "speedy recovery"...ugh. The article even mentions that anti-psychotics have been used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and aggression. Just...what?

To think that someone is ok having troops drugged up and be more at risk on the battlefield with less than optimal fine motor skills, dull nerves and emotions is well...I don't even know. Also these drugs can be addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms which will only lead to damaging consequences in the long run. Way to take good care of our soldiers.

Fuck.

#2 Edited by JasonR86 (9651 posts) -

I also read this and here's how I reacted. The parts that bother me is that these drugs, which the ones mentioned have an active and strong sedative effect, are hurting the ability of these soldiers to keep themselves safe and act efficiently and appropriately and they could be left with long-lasting issues (some side effects can be permanent and some of the drugs are addicting). But they don't want to try anti-depressants (what you would usually want to use here) because they take 7-14-21-ish days before they work. And fuck therapy. That takes way too long. It's the living, breathing example of breeding soldiers that we want, as if they were tools, rather then thinking of these soldiers as human beings with lives after service. We are actively telling these soldiers, "serve our country and go fuck yourself too." It's really gross.

EDIT:

I should add that anti-psychotics could be used to address insomnia, anxiety, and aggression theoretically because it has a sedative effect due to many having an anti-histamine effect. Ambien, for example, is most commonly thought of as a sleeping aid but, at high (or is it low? one of the two) doses, can have an anti-psychotic effect. Sedation could help address anxiety, aggression too because the person would be too groggy to be anxious or aggressive.

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#3 Posted by ThunderSlash (1639 posts) -

SOP

#4 Edited by JasonR86 (9651 posts) -
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#5 Edited by TruthTellah (8720 posts) -

You'll probably see more news outlets talk about issues like this once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home. To me, this isn't really a surprise, as it sounds about par for the course when it comes to how militaries treat their soldiers. The only real surprise is that this is now coming up as "data not reported on until now". The data has been there; it just hasn't gotten the serious coverage it deserves.

#6 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@thunderslash said:

SOP

That exact thought crossed my mind too.

Wow yeah. It didn't come to mind at first but fuck...if they could do it I bet they would.

#7 Posted by JasonR86 (9651 posts) -

You'll probably see more news outlets talk about issues like this once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home. To me, this isn't really a surprise, as it sounds about par for the course when it comes to how militaries treat their soldiers. The only real surprise is that this is now coming up as "data not reported on until now". The data has been there; it just hasn't gotten the serious coverage it deserves.

I hadn't heard about it until now. There has been data about anti-depressants being given. The bigger issue is the sedation effect of these particular drugs and the harshness of many of these drugs (like the anti-psychotics).

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#8 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

This also is believed to be a major contributing factor an the many suicides and even murder/suicides that have been committed by soldiers while in Iraq/Afghanistan or even after returning home.

#9 Posted by JasonR86 (9651 posts) -

@mcghee said:

This also is believed to be a major contributing factor an the many suicides and even murder/suicides that have been committed by soldiers while in Iraq/Afghanistan or even after returning home.

I hadn't heard that. I don't think these drugs lead to suicidality but it could lead to dis-inhibition that would make it easier, theoretically, to go through with suicide if the person is already suicidal. The same thing is said about anti-depressants. Anti-depressants don't make people more suicidal they just give the depressed person who is already suicidal more energy to go through with their thoughts.

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#10 Posted by TruthTellah (8720 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@truthtellah said:

You'll probably see more news outlets talk about issues like this once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home. To me, this isn't really a surprise, as it sounds about par for the course when it comes to how militaries treat their soldiers. The only real surprise is that this is now coming up as "data not reported on until now". The data has been there; it just hasn't gotten the serious coverage it deserves.

I hadn't heard about it until now. There has been data about anti-depressants being given. The bigger issue is the sedation effect of these particular drugs and the harshness of many of these drugs (like the anti-psychotics).

Unfortunately, I've seen soldiers coming home with inadequate and even harmful treatment like this for a long time now. Everything's about a quick bandaid over long-term care that will really get soldiers the help they need. Lacking care at home and even worse in the field. It's like a more extreme version of our already bandaid-focused medical industry.

#11 Edited by JasonR86 (9651 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@truthtellah said:

You'll probably see more news outlets talk about issues like this once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home. To me, this isn't really a surprise, as it sounds about par for the course when it comes to how militaries treat their soldiers. The only real surprise is that this is now coming up as "data not reported on until now". The data has been there; it just hasn't gotten the serious coverage it deserves.

I hadn't heard about it until now. There has been data about anti-depressants being given. The bigger issue is the sedation effect of these particular drugs and the harshness of many of these drugs (like the anti-psychotics).

Unfortunately, I've seen soldiers coming home with inadequate and even harmful treatment like this for a long time now. Everything's about a quick bandaid over long-term care that will really get soldiers the help they need. Lacking care at home and even worse in the field. It's like a more extreme version of our already bandaid-focused medical industry.

Yeah. I mean I'm certainly not opposed to using medications and doing therapy when a person is in combat might not be particularly feasible or helpful. But making them numb during combat is really not the answer because it'll hurt their combat efficiency and make it harder for them to keep themselves safe.

I'm in a weird position at my job at a community clinic because I would love to help everyone I could but there's only so many therapist who can see only so many people. At my clinic we usually have too many people then we can see. I think drugs alone can be helpful for some people just like therapy alone can be good for some people or a combination of the two works for others. But it's when people are forced to pick only one that I'm bothered. It's hypocritical to reinforce client self-efficacy and independence while giving them only one option for help.

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#12 Edited by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@mcghee said:

This also is believed to be a major contributing factor an the many suicides and even murder/suicides that have been committed by soldiers while in Iraq/Afghanistan or even after returning home.

I hadn't heard that. I don't think these drugs lead to suicidality but it could lead to dis-inhibition that would make it easier, theoretically, to go through with suicide if the person is already suicidal. The same thing is said about anti-depressants. Anti-depressants don't make people more suicidal they just give the depressed person who is already suicidal more energy to go through with their thoughts.

I'm no so sure about this. There are mixed reports out on it but this is interesting: http://psychrights.org/research/Digest/SSRIs/kauffman2009.pdf

There is also the factor of those coming off the drugs that I had forgotten to mention as well.

#14 Edited by Hunter5024 (5600 posts) -

Yup. Drug use in war is pretty common. We gave soldiers Amphetamines during World War 2. Pretty disgusting.

#15 Posted by TruthTellah (8720 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

@truthtellah said:

@jasonr86 said:

@truthtellah said:

You'll probably see more news outlets talk about issues like this once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home. To me, this isn't really a surprise, as it sounds about par for the course when it comes to how militaries treat their soldiers. The only real surprise is that this is now coming up as "data not reported on until now". The data has been there; it just hasn't gotten the serious coverage it deserves.

I hadn't heard about it until now. There has been data about anti-depressants being given. The bigger issue is the sedation effect of these particular drugs and the harshness of many of these drugs (like the anti-psychotics).

Unfortunately, I've seen soldiers coming home with inadequate and even harmful treatment like this for a long time now. Everything's about a quick bandaid over long-term care that will really get soldiers the help they need. Lacking care at home and even worse in the field. It's like a more extreme version of our already bandaid-focused medical industry.

Yeah. I mean I'm certainly not opposed to using medications and doing therapy when a person is in combat might not be particularly feasible or helpful. But making them numb during combat is really not the answer because it'll hurt their combat efficiency and make it harder for them to keep themselves safe.

I'm in a weird position at my job at a community clinic because I would love to help everyone I could but there's only so many therapist who can see only so many people. At my clinic we usually have too many people then we can see. I think drugs alone can be helpful for some people just like therapy alone can be good for some people or a combination of the two works for others. But it's when people are forced to pick only one that I'm bothered. It's hypocritical to reinforce client self-efficacy and independence while giving them only one option for help.

Indeed. And that's one of the big issues faced by any military trying to treat soldiers in the field. There are many medical professionals trying to provide the best care they can, but with that many people in an environment where the urgency of getting someone back to duty pressures people to cut more and more corners and expedite treatment, you're just asking for things to get out of hand and questionable prescriptions to occur. While I think the biggest shame is the lacking long-term care once soldiers are home, a lot of that is made worse by problems in their active duty care.

#16 Posted by Slag (4222 posts) -

hardly surprising unfortunately. This is a very old practice in the military.

My guess is that list is just tip of the iceberg when it comes to this kind of stuff. I've long assumed all sorts of PEDs were fair game as well.

#17 Edited by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

@truthtellah said:

once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home.

You don't seem to be familiar with the United States government. Wars.. over? troops.. home? Too many fictional threats to deal with, boogymen to hunt down and oil reserves to conquer dude.

It's sad to see misery and death and I really wish the death of American soldiers as well as Middle Eastern soldiers and citizens would end this instant and they would go home to their families and loved ones, but then I'd be dreaming.

#18 Posted by TruthTellah (8720 posts) -

@truthtellah said:

once the wars are completely over and most of the troops are home.

You don't seem to be familiar with the United States government. Wars.. over? troops.. home? Too many fictional threats to deal with, boogymen to hunt down and oil reserves to conquer dude.

It's sad to see misery and death and I really wish the death of American soldiers as well as Middle Eastern soldiers and citizens would end this instant and they would go home to their families and loved ones, but then I'd be dreaming.

Well, there will still be some troops in Afghanistan in two years, but most combat troops should be out by the end of next year. That point is what I am referring to. Though, considering the current draw-down and general lack of public interest, it's understandable that news outlets will be focusing a bit more on facets of the war like this and the long-term issues post-Iraq and Afghanistan.

#19 Edited by glacialhelmnun (52 posts) -

I don't know that I find the 682% increase in prescribed psychoactive use over 6 years particularly alarming on its' own. If it were a symptom of an aggressive campaign to actually try to do something about PTSD indicating a reduction in the social stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues then that might be a net positive.

If it's true that they're using reuptake inhibitors on-the-fly as a cure-all for any mental distress then I feel incredibly sad for the soldiers and their families. My personal experience with these drugs would indicate that this is a pretty god damn risky approach.

But I don't really know what a single policy leading to the least bad outcome for soldiers would look like. How would you feasibly reduce the number on soldiers you're prescribing to safely, if that's what's needed ?

This situation is totally fucked.

#20 Posted by Ben_H (3335 posts) -

Sadly, many countries have been drugging up soldiers for years. In WW2 the US distributed Benzedrine to US troops (basically an amphetamine, or "speed" as it is commonly known) in the form of an inhaler to keep them awake and focused and feeling good, and the Germans used methamphetamine on troops, as well as anabolic steroids in some cases (the Americans used meth too, which is partly why it became a thing in the US after the war. Soldiers got addicted overseas and had to get their fix somehow so it created a market). What they do now is just the modern version of that, but instead with anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, which are newer type of drug that first became popular in the 1950s with drugs like Miltown, Librium and later Valium. In the many readings relating to drug history I have done, these types of drugs (which are often referred to as tranquilizers by medical historians. Minor tranquilizers to be specific. There are 2 types of tranquilizers, major and minor.) have been found to have very negative longterm effects on people. It troubles me that the military is so happy to prescribe them to people who are already going through traumatic experiences. It is trouble waiting to happen because these drugs are addicting and can permanently mess with brain chemistry.

I could go on about this stuff all day. I just finished taking a class on drug history, including military usage of drugs.

#21 Edited by Kazona (3063 posts) -

And yet there are still people who feel that it is their duty to serve their country. Go figure.

#22 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

@kazona said:

And yet there are still people who feel that it is their duty to serve their country. Go figure.

Not sure how that is even related to the mistreatment of soldiers, but ok.

#23 Posted by Tarsier (1057 posts) -

@kazona said:

And yet there are still people who feel that it is their duty to serve their country. Go figure.

its a completely legitimate feeling to have. imagine the tragedy when a person with that conviction gets out there and sees what theyre actually doing and asks 'why am i even here?'... what comes from that is a question of what is happening with the government and the power system back home . . . these wars have a tendency to wake people up. this is why returning veterans are labeled as the number one terrorist threat by the DHS.

*ooOooOOo conspiracies.*

#25 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

@ben_h: It's just depressing how under-reported all that stuff is.

#26 Edited by PillClinton (3291 posts) -

Really hope other news groups pick this up and run with it this topic needs exposure badly!

RT probably will. Big mainstream outlets? Doubtful.

#27 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

They give you all those drugs just for joining the armed forces? Man, now I'm considering signing up.

#28 Posted by JZ (2125 posts) -

Combat jack

#29 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

They give you all those drugs just for joining the armed forces? Man, now I'm considering signing up.

Huh, I want to laugh at that stupid comment but nope...this is doing absolutely nothing for me.

#30 Posted by casper_ (903 posts) -

when i was a kid i got in trouble for truancy and wound up getting sent to an RTC where they put me (and basically all other kids) on anti-psychotic medication and from that experience i would think that being under the influence of those kinds of drugs would be reasonably dangerous in any kind of high pressure situation, not because they make you go wild or anything but just the opposite. these drugs take the edge off so hard you might as well not be a human being.

#31 Posted by TooWalrus (13153 posts) -

Haze. Look it up.

#32 Posted by RazielCuts (2943 posts) -

Haze. Look it up.

It's a religion?

#33 Posted by c0l0nelp0c0rn1 (1806 posts) -
@jz said:

Combat jack

That's something else entirely...

It's not a good thing. That's all I can really say. The attitude about soldiers isn't about getting them home or keeping them safe, it's about getting them through their deployment. US guvment couldn't care less about what happens afterwards.

#34 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -
#35 Edited by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

They pretty much prescribed speed to jet pilots in Afghanistan which lead to domestic violence and murders when they got home in the early stages of the war. The Military don't care about the long term effects of the drugs they just want their soldiers battle ready ASAP.

#36 Edited by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@ravenlight said:

They give you all those drugs just for joining the armed forces? Man, now I'm considering signing up.

Huh, I want to laugh at that stupid comment but nope...this is doing absolutely nothing for me.

Do you know how much mood stabilizing drugs cost without insurance? I'm not laughing either -_-

#37 Edited by thebunnyhunter (1375 posts) -

Haze. Look it up.

How is this not the first comment...its clearly the most relevant

#38 Posted by Demoskinos (14722 posts) -

@jasonr86: Yeah its awful from this stuff to the way veterans are treated to how they treat the wounded soldiers in the military hospitals. Being in the military like that is a job I couldn't do so I'm actively in awe and insanely respectful of our soldiers regardless if I agree with the politics behind what they are being told to do.

#39 Edited by Oldirtybearon (4664 posts) -

So all that lip service that talks about honour and looking after our troops is just humbug. Figured as much.

Hopefully this gets out as a big news piece but I doubt it. We can't realistically expect our journalists to actually do their job in today's environment.

#40 Edited by Fattony12000 (7261 posts) -
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#41 Posted by Winternet (8012 posts) -

YEAH!

I mean, wat?

#42 Edited by CaptainSandwich (75 posts) -
@colourful_hippie said:

@kazona said:

And yet there are still people who feel that it is their duty to serve their country. Go figure.

Not sure how that is even related to the mistreatment of soldiers, but ok.

If it looks like being stationed in an active zone = a good chance of being shot up, abused, and roboticized and shit, I can see how he'd make the connection.

#43 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

@colourful_hippie said:

@ravenlight said:

They give you all those drugs just for joining the armed forces? Man, now I'm considering signing up.

Huh, I want to laugh at that stupid comment but nope...this is doing absolutely nothing for me.

Do you know how much mood stabilizing drugs cost without insurance? I'm not laughing either -_-

Alright that one was better. I chuckled.

#44 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -
@colourful_hippie said:

@kazona said:

And yet there are still people who feel that it is their duty to serve their country. Go figure.

Not sure how that is even related to the mistreatment of soldiers, but ok.

If it looks like being stationed in an active zone = a good chance of being shot up, abused, and roboticized and shit, I can see how he'd make the connection.

This stuff is severely under-reported. I'm not surprised that people who enlist are ignorant of this stuff and I wouldn't exactly fault them for it.

#45 Posted by Tobiass (150 posts) -

If you're going to a warzone, you should know what you're getting into.

Look at Vietnam vets. This has happened before.

#46 Edited by envane (1162 posts) -

yet marijuana is still illegal .. pshaw

not saying that weed is the cure , probably far from it , but its a hell of alot less harmful than hardcore mind altering substances.

#47 Posted by TrafalgarLaw (1106 posts) -

Kill some arabs, ruin some families, take meds to surpress any human emotion to keep going.

rinse and repeat.

#48 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4337 posts) -

@envane said:

yet marijuana is still illegal .. pshaw

not saying that weed is the cure , probably far from it , but its a hell of alot less harmful than hardcore mind altering substances.

This is the wrong place to bring that up but ok.

(even though I support legalization)

#49 Posted by dudeglove (7720 posts) -

Metal Gear?