Published on 2nd September 2016 by

Drugging America’s Veterans (2013): The US consumes 80% of the world’s painkillers and more die from them than heroin and cocaine combined. Fatal overdoses are twice the national average among war veterans: so why are they fed addictive opiates?

For similar stories, see:
Catching America’s Fake Veterans (2010)

How 55,000 Female Veterans Ended Up On The Streets
Has the French Foreign Legion Become a Crutch for Many of Its Veterans?

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“I couldn’t believe the amount of medication being prescribed to him”, says Jeff Waggoner’s father sadly. After being evacuated out of Afghanistan with a serious groin injury, Jeff became addicted to painkillers in an army hospital in Oregan. The army discharged him with a massive cocktail of narcotics in his pocket. That night Jeff died in a motel corridor from an overdose of oxycodone, tranquilisers and muscle relaxants. Analysis of 12 years of prescription data from the US Veteran’s Association shows that prescriptions for 4 highly addictive painkillers have surged by 270% since the war in Afghanistan began, far outstripping the increase in patients. Retired brigadier and psychiatrist Dr Xenakis explains, “in these clinics they’re very busy, they’ve got pressures. Giving a prescription is almost default”. For him it’s clear that opiates harm rather than heal veterans. Dr Robert Petzel, the VA’s undersecretary for health, insists opiates are only a last resort and “there are very careful protocols”. But this report found veterans across the country locked in a life and death struggle with their painkiller addiction. For Fallujah veteran Tim Fazio it’s simple: “if doctors give it to me, I’m gonna take it”.

The Center For Investigative Reporting – Ref. 5973

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