Over 110,000 US forces used psychotropic meds in 2011: Report

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A recent report says that more than 110,000 active-duty US Army forces were on prescribed antidepressants, sedatives and other prescribed medication in 2011, which reflects an eight-fold increase from 2005.

According to an article published by the Los Angeles Times, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs. “We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now…. And I don’t believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military is a coincidence,” said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist. Last year, US pilot Patrick Burke, who had been taking a tablet of Dexedrine every four hours while flying a B-1 bomber across nine time zones, beat one of his friends after landing and crashed a stolen car into guardrails. Burke was charged with auto theft, drunk driving and two counts of assault. Four military psychiatrists, however, concluded that the young lieutenant suffered from “polysubstance-induced delirium” caused by alcohol, lack of sleep and the 40 milligrams of Dexedrine. US military officials claim that the use of drugs in the army is comparable to that by the civilians. However, psychiatrists and lawyers, who blame the heavy use of psychotropic drugs for their clients’ aberrant behavior and related health problems, believe otherwise, attributing the abnormal conduct to harsh conditions imposed on the soldiers in the US-led wars.