Morphine Addicts and PTSD Suffers Rejoice

Researchers have reported they’ve found morphine to be a post traumatic stress “morning-after” remedy.

Or have they?

In a large study of Iraq combat casualties, Navy researchers maintain morphine cut in half the chances the injured’s unwelcome shot at developing PTSD.

But did it?

Researchers in San Diego looked at 696 cases of servicemembers injured in Iraq between 2004 and 2006. They found morphine was used by the caregivers most frequently in the most severe cases, often within a two-hour window of the injury. Of the total studied, 243 later sought treatment for PTSD. Of those, morphine had been used in 60 percent of the cases. Of the other 453 injured, morphine was used in 76 percent of the cases.

I’m not a medical researcher, but I am unsure how these numbers are as exciting as reports claim. It remains unclear why researches appear so hopeful that morphine may be a way to lessen the psychological effects of combat trauma. More than 50 percent of those who developed PTSD as well as those who did not received morphine following their combat injury.

Let’s say morphine is the PTSD antidote. Traumatic stress reaches beyond those caught on the bad end of an IED to the comrades who walk away physically unscathed. It can sprout from any severe trauma. So if combating PTSD is at issue, who gets the morphine in theater? Only the physically injured?

Researchers have been quick to note this is just one study and much more work needs to be done.

Overall, it has been reported about 20 percent of those on active duty and veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. Of the unique test group in the Navy study, 35 percent were diagnosed with PTSD.

Will self-medicators target morphine to dull their undiagnosed pain? (We would.)

The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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