Objectives: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.
Reprint & Copyright © 2014 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.