A shocking new study shows that an alarmingly high percentage of ex-soldiers turn to painkillers after returning home. In fact, it’s believed that soldiers are roughly four times more likely to use opioids — or psychoactive drugs — than civilians.
That’s the finding of a recent survey of just under 2,600 soldiers carried out by U.S. Army researchers. In their report, the research team noted that 15 percent of the soldiers surveyed had taken painkillers in the past month. In comparison, only 4 per cent of civilians reported as such.
The soldiers participating in the survey had recently returned to the United States after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Almost half (44 per cent) reported feeling chronic pain that lasted for three months or longer — with one in three of these soldiers turning to opioids for help.
When asked what was causing their pain, most of the soldiers pointed to combat injuries. The study also found that soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) were more likely to report feeling chronic pain and turn to painkillers for assistance. About 60 soldiers said their pain was so distressing that they took opioids on a daily basis.
Those behind the study were hoping to find out more about the overprescribing of serious painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, which can be both addictive and fatal if abused. The study did show that of the soldiers taking opioids, 17 reported experiencing no pain while another 144 said their pain was only “mild”.