U.S. Military Admits to Overdose Epidemic Among Troops: Over 15,000 Overdoses in the Last Five Years

The U.S. military has admitted to a rising “overdose epidemic” among its troops, The Rolling Stone reports.

In the past five years, over 15,000 members of the military have overdosed on illicit drugs, with 332 cases resulting in death, according to the Pentagon.

The figures were provided to Congress in response to queries from five senators.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, was responsible for over half of the military overdose deaths, with the drug’s fatalities having more than doubled since 2017.

Deaths from fentanyl have followed a similar trajectory to the overall drug crisis in America.

In 2021, the U.S. recorded almost 107,000 civilian overdose deaths, with over 71,000 linked to fentanyl.

The five senators, including Massachusetts Democrats Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, wrote to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last September seeking information on overdoses in the military after it emerged that as many as 30 soldiers died from overdoses at Fort Bragg in 2020 and 2021.

The North Carolina base is home to America’s special forces.

“The loss of a single service member to a fatal overdose is one loss too many,” said Markey. “With hundreds of fatal overdoses reported on U.S. military bases, the toll is mounting. We can and must stop America’s overdose crisis.”

The military’s overdose deaths reflect those in the civilian population in many ways, with 96% of those who died being enlisted service members, while the majority of cases involve people without college degrees, Rolling Stone notes.

The vast majority of service members who died from drug overdoses were white males under the age of 33.

Bases hosting Army infantrymen, Green Berets, and other elite soldiers had higher concentrations of overdoses.

This may not be a coincidence, as these formations have “borne nearly all of the brunt of the past decade of war in Afghanistan and a half-dozen other countries,” the publication wrote.

The Pentagon’s admission underscores the urgent need for greater attention and resources to address the overdose crisis in the military.