US Veterans are Among the Most Susceptible to the Opioid Crisis

Since 9/11, more than 2.7 million American service men and women have served more than 5 million deployments across the world. More than 9 million were on active duty during the Vietnam War, and 1.6 million fought in combat or provided close support. Between these two conflicts alone, more than 375,000 service personnel suffered physical injuries. That doesn’t include the tens of thousands who suffer PTSD and other mental health issues.

Medical advances have made it possible for even the seriously injured to survive. Whether you were wounded by an IED, hurt in a training accident, or suffer from a disease or non-battle injury (DNBI) that has caused chronic pain, chances are you have been prescribed an opioid drug and may be addicted.

Veteran Drug Addiction: An Old Problem in a New Era

Veteran drug addiction is not new. Morphine, a relatively new drug in the mid-1800s, came into use at approximately the same time the hypodermic needle was perfected. Morphine was injected into thousands of wounded Civil War soldiers. They became some of the first to develop an opioid addiction, and morphine dependence became known as the “Soldiers Disease.” This potent drug is still used on the field today: The IZAS-05 kit is an individual auto-injector kit used for medical emergencies on the battlefield and in crisis situations. It includes a 20 mg morphine sulphate solution.

Given the seriousness of physical injuries and emotional stress suffered by military personnel, pain management is often at the top of the triage list.In addition to battle injuries, many military personnel suffer long-term medical issues caused by everything from carrying 100-lb packs to walking patrols for extended periods of time. The answer? As one veteran put it: “ ‘Here’s some morphine, here’s some fentanyl, here’s something else. That’s the way it’s done.”