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Why Are We Drugging Our Soldiers?

Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a large and steady rise in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among our troops. One recent study of 289,000 Americans who served in those countries found that the rates of the disorder jumped to 22 percent in 2008 from just 0.2 percent in 2002. Given the duration of these wars and the length and frequency of deployments, when compared with other wars, perhaps such high rates of PTSD are not so surprising. Prolonged exposure to a perilous and uncertain combat environment might make trauma common. But there is another factor that might be playing a role in the increasing rates of the disorder, one that has escaped attention: the military’s use of stimulant medications, like Ritalin and Adderall, in our troops. There has been a significant increase in the use of stimulant medication. Documents that I obtained in late 2010 through the Freedom of Information Act, and have recently analyzed, show that annual spending on stimulants jum...
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