Some 15% of U.S. Army infantry soldiers who’ve recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan say they’ve used opioids in the past month, with nearly half of these reporting no pain or only mild symptoms, according to a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Nearly 2600 soldiers completed surveys roughly 3 months after returning from active duty. Among the other findings: 44% of participants reported chronic pain lasting at least 3 months; of these, one fourth said they’d used opioids in the past month.
The researchers note that the prevalences of opioid use (15%) and chronic pain (44%) were higher than estimates for the general civilian population (4% and 26%, respectively). They say the results “suggest a large unmet need for assessment, management, and treatment of chronic pain and related opioid use and misuse in military personnel after combat deployments.”