The number of U.S. Army soldiers enrolling in treatment for opiate addiction rose 500 percent between 2004 and 2009, Fox News reported May 6.
A total of 529 soldiers sought opiate-addiction treatment through the military last year, up from 89 in 2004. Enrollment jumped 50 percent in 2009 as the Obama administration began sending more troops to Afghanistan, one of the world’s leading opium producers.
Army officials said the uptick likely represents misuse of both illicit drugs like heroin and opiate-based prescription drugs. Heroin is easily available in Afghanistan, even on U.S. military bases. Use of the drug is widespread among Afghan forces, according to former U.S. soldiers who served in Afghanistan.
Few U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan have tested positive for opiates during random drug testing, however.