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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Heroin Overdose in Afghanistan


American soldiers struggling with addiction has been evident since the conflict in Vietnam. Certainly soldiers around the world struggled with addiction before Vietnam, but Vietnam was the first televised war; not only did people at home see the horrors of combat; they saw soldiers lost in a world of drugs - primarily heroin. The military no longer had the ability to hide the fact that soldiers struggled with addiction, they were forced to address the problem. Now, over a thousand miles away from Vietnam in Afghanistan, another heroin rich country, heroin is once again finding its way to the troops stationed across the country. In many ways we are seeing a repeat of Vietnam, an occupying force in a country whose primary source of revenue is generated from the manufacturing and the sale of opium. Just recently, a possible overdose occurred involving an Australian soldier serving in Afghanistan.

Dr Alex Wodak, director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, said that drug use was a major problem for Soviet troops in Afghanistan and the US military is also now facing an increase in addiction, according to ABC. Afghanistan produces 93 per cent of the world's opium, the key ingredient of heroin. It is fare to assume that any soldier serving in that region is susceptible to opiate abuse, especially with the likelihood of post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers often lack the proper coping tools to deal with high-conflict environments - drugs often seem like an easy solution.

Adequate counseling needs to be provided to soldiers on so many different levels, especially if they are going to continue functioning under such extreme elements. We know from thousands of years of conflict across the globe that the horrors of war scar soldiers forever. It is ever so crucial that we minimize the damage by providing troops outlets to deal with their problems without resorting to drugs and alcohol.

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