Department of Defense To Track Military Overdoses, Provide NARCAN

Department of Defense To Track Military Overdoses, Provide NARCAN

Under the new law, the Department of Defense will begin tracking overdoses within the U.S. military in 2024 and begin providing naloxone to service members in 2025.

Historically, military overdose deaths have not been systematically tracked until the release of a report by the U.S. government. rolling stone A 2022 paper details a spike in overdose deaths at Fort Bragg, which has since been renamed Fort Liberty. The report details the shocking increase in deaths from fentanyl, counterfeit prescription drugs laced with fentanyl, and deaths of healthy young men from the typical causes of long-term drug use that were not considered overdoses. did.

Typically, rolling stone He cited sloppy record-keeping and experienced a lack of transparency from Fort Liberty's leadership regarding drug use, drug-related crimes and overdoses by military personnel. Of the 109 deaths that occurred at Fort Liberty between 2020 and 2021, at least 14 soldiers died directly from overdose, but that number could be higher if drug-related causes are included. Accidental overdoses are the most common, with 21 deaths according to Rolling Stone. The cause of death at Fort Liberty is behind a suicide that claimed the lives of 41 soldiers during the same period.

later rolling stone The report put pressure on Congress to do something about the issue, and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), along with other lawmakers, began pushing for more transparency from the Pentagon. With this request, the Pentagon acknowledged that fentanyl-related deaths among military personnel nearly doubled between 2017 and 2021, similar to what the rest of the country has experienced.according to Military.com According to the report, 330 service members died from drug overdoses between 2017 and 2022, and 15,000 soldiers experienced non-fatal overdoses during the same period.

“True safety means ensuring military members and their families have access to the resources and life-saving treatment they need to stop the overdose crisis,” Senator Markey said in a statement to Military.com. ” he said.

The law mandating overdose tracking and distribution of NARCAN will be signed into law by President Biden in December 2022 and go into effect in 2024. According to Military.com, the Department of Defense will be required to submit annual reports on overdose deaths, overdose locations, and demographics. , whether the service member had previously sought mental health treatment or been previously prescribed opioids, benzodiazepines, or stimulants.

“This is just smart public health,” Professor Alex Bennett told Military.com. Bennett is director of New York University's Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. “There are so many people in the military who are ignorant about drugs,” Bennett said.

Part of the problem is also true for civilians, where fentanyl is often used to make “pressed tablets,” or counterfeit prescription drugs designed to look like pharmaceutical painkillers or benzodiazepines, often in inadequate doses. Enough is enough and it's causing people to take drugs without knowing it. A lethal dose of fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that about 70 percent of counterfeit prescription drugs contain potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.

“We've worked with many veterans who use drugs while in the military. Transparency in data tracking like the military is starting to do is a step in the right direction,” Bennett said. he said. “Turning a blind eye to the drug problem won't solve anything,” Bennett said. “It only makes things worse.”

Carol De Nora, whose 23-year-old child died of an overdose while stationed at Fort Liberty, told Military.com that the new law doesn't require soldiers to be educated about the risks, so it's not necessary for military personnel to do so. He said that drug education is especially necessary. of fentanyl.

“We need to address this problem before service members are on the brink of overdosing,” De Nora said.

It was not immediately clear how the military would distribute naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, a life-saving drug that can stop an opioid overdose. Many of his NARCAN distribution programs have been established at the local city or township level, but none have been established by federal or military leadership until new legislation is passed. The new law requires naloxone to be available to all military forces by 2025. The law also requires tracking of all naloxone distributed, which could discourage some service members from seeking it.

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