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Mil Med. 2014 Oct;179(10):1141-8. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00002.

Use and abuse of prescribed opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants among U.S. active duty military personnel in FY 2010.

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Department of Defense, Defense Health Agency, 7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101, Falls Church, VA 22042-5101.
Westat, Inc., 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850-3129.
Defense Manpower Data Center, DoD Center. Monterey Bay, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside, CA 93955-6771.
803 North 2nd Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025.



This study establishes rates of use/abuse of Schedule II-IV prescription medications in U.S. active duty military personnel, and characterizes correlates of such use/abuse.


All active duty personnel serving for 12 months during fiscal year 2010 were included. Data were obtained from medical and pharmacy claims and drug screening results. Logistic regression models were used to examine predictors of drug use, along with bivariate analyses to compare abuse of prescribed and illegal drugs.


Nearly one-third of active duty service members received at least one prescription for opioids, central nervous system depressants, or stimulants, with 26.4% having received at least one prescription for opioids. About 0.7%, 1.4%, and 0.6% of the total force received >90-day prescriptions for opioids, central nervous system depressants, or stimulants, respectively. Battlefield injury, receipt of psychotropic medications, and substance abuse adverse events were predictive of >90-day supply of opioids. About 0.7% of the total force had documented known drug abuse for prescribed drugs compared to 0.4% for illegal drug abuse.


We recommend systematic monitoring of prescriptions for controlled substances which may carry serious consequences, evaluation of the impact of controlled substances on military readiness, and examination of the rationale for prescribing controlled drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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