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The overuse of prescription drugs among military personnel is well documented, as a much higher percentage of military personnel are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs than the general public. This has led to a high rate of suicide, where more service members die by suicide than in combat. 22 veterans kill themselves every single day.
Retired Army Colonel and psychologist, Bart Billings, is passionate about the harm being inflicted upon the nation’s military. As one of the first professionals to disclose the link between psychotropic drug use and military suicides , Billings founded an annual International Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference to promote effective, integrative, alternative, and individual treatment approaches without the use of harmful psychiatric drugs.
Today’s military is being drugged at epidemic rates for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which, according to Billings, is not a disorder at all. “PTSD isn’t a disorder,” said Billings. “Ninety-nine percent of anybody that goes into combat is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress. It’s a normal reaction to being in an abnormal environment.”
“You shouldn’t really be medicating them,” Billings stated, “because they have a normal brain and once you medicate these people, what happens is it’s much, much harder to work with them because now you’re working with somebody whose brain functioning is chemically, physiologically changed by the medications.”
Billings believes that the best mental health is found in a strong sense of involvement and caring, which leads to trust. Billings said, “In my 47 years of treating people, although I had access to using psychiatric medication, I never recommended a single psychiatric drug. In all these years, I can state unequivocally, I therefore never had a person commit suicide or a homicide while in my care.”
It was good to see this very serious problem addressed by NPR in a recent broadcast  of “All Things Considered.” The program reveals the amazing story of one veteran who realized he was addicted to these prescription drugs, but had to disobey doctor’s orders to stop using them.
Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors’ Orders
1 in 3 veterans polled say they are on 10 different medications.
While there is concern about overmedicating and self-medicating — using alcohol or drugs without a doctor’s approval — there are also some veterans who are trying to do the opposite: They’re kicking the drugs, against doctor’s orders.
Will, the veteran whose list of medications takes six minutes to read, has stopped taking those drugs.
“I always keep at least one month on supply,” Will says. “My next month’s supply comes next week, so as soon as they come in, I take those and I flush them. And then I just scrape my name off all the pill bottles and throw them all away.”
Will, who is in the process of medically retiring from the Army, keeps that month’s supply of pills on hand for a reason: He gets drug-tested to make sure he is taking his medications. That’s to ensure he’s not selling his drugs on the street — which isn’t uncommon.
So every few months, when he has an appointment coming up, Will gets himself back on his drugs. He gradually works up to the dose he’s supposed to be on. He recently cycled himself off the medications again after a doctor’s appointment.
“I’m actually feeling pretty good,” Will says. “I’ve now been fully off the meds for nine days. The first three days of being off them were really bad; just real bad nausea, diarrhea, shaky.”
Will hopes he’ll be out of the Army soon and can stop the roller coaster of getting on and off the drugs. But for now, he says, it’s worth it. When he was on the medications, he was a shut-in, he says, depressed and too doped up to drive.
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