Neurophilosophy

Uncle Prozac wants you

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This week’s issue of Time has a cover story called America’s Medicated Army, about the increasing use of antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs among U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The article quotes figures from a recent report by the Army’s Mental Health Advisory Team, according to which, 12% of troops in Iraq, and 18% of those in Afghanistan, have been prescribed these medications (that is, approximately 20,000 of the total number of troops deployed).

A study of British troops published last year showed that the longer troops are deployed, the more likely they are to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and to have severe alcohol problems.

Even so, troops are being prescribed these medications so that they can remain deployed for their full tour of duty. In this way, the U.S. military – which is already stretched to breaking point – can save money that would otherwise be spent on training and troop rotations. 

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  • Comments

    1. #1 Kevin H
      June 10, 2008

      That’s one way to look at it. Another would be that before they would have been told to simply tough it out and pushed until they cracked. this seems like a better alternative.

      It would be interesting to see a careful study of this policy’s effect in a few years. Perhaps a solider would have a lower chance of long term problems if medicated early. However, to do that right you would need a control/placebo group that would have to come in with the same problems, but just given sugar pills. Might be legal given the military’s control over it’s soldiers, but I bet some Military Psychs still be would be uncomfortable with it.

    2. #2 tguy
      June 10, 2008

      Ironic they now have to drug soldiers just to keep them functioning when the military has been messing with enhancement for a donkey’s age. In the past stimulants have been handed out like candy. Better killing through psychopharmacology. Or maybe that should be, you can fool some of the brain some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the brain all of the time. My old links don’t work, but the Memory Hole has stuff: http://www.thememoryhole.org/mil/pilot-speed.htm

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