[Congressional Record Volume 156, Number 122 (Monday, September 13, 2010)]
[Page S7023]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                        PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE

  Mr. INOUYE. Madam President, I rise to speak on a matter of great 
importance to me. Recently, I met with Gil Kerlikowske, Director of 
National Drug Control Policy and his Deputy Director for Demand 
Reduction, David Mineta. In that meeting, they shared alarming 
information with me about the rates of prescription drug abuse among 
veterans and active duty military personnel. The Office of National 
Drug Control Policy, ONDCP, and the Centers for Disease Control have 
characterized the rate of prescription drug abuse in our country as an 
epidemic, with rates of unintentional drug overdose deaths having 
increased fivefold since 1990.
  Our active duty military forces and veterans are not immune from this 
disturbing trend. In the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health 
Related Behaviors among Active Duty Military Personnel, prescription 
drug misuse was reported by one in nine personnel in the past month and 
nearly one in five in the past year. Further, the percentage of men and 
women reporting prescription drug misuse in all military services 
combined--11.5 percent--was more than twice that of the civilian 
population in the age group 18-64--4.4 percent.
  Unfortunately, substance abuse remains a problem for newly returning 
veterans as well.

       Data collected between 2002 and 2008 indicate that across 
     all medical conditions of returning veterans, mental health 
     disorders are the second most common--40 percent--with both 
     post traumatic stress and substance use disorders among the 
     highest within this category.
       Aggregated data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health 
     Services Administration's annual household survey reveals 
     that from 2004 to 2006, 7.1 percent of veterans--an estimated 
     1.8 million persons 18 or older--met criteria for a past-year 
     substance use disorder.

  The Army recently released a study highlighting the importance of 
suicide prevention. The Army experienced 239 suicide deaths across the 
total Army, including the active reserve members, in fiscal year 2009. 
This number does not include 74 drug overdoses in the same year. As the 
Army stated in its recently released report, ``Health Promotion, Risk 
Reduction, Suicide Prevention,'' this is an issue that cannot be 
ignored. I urge ONDCP to pursue solutions, along with the Veterans 
Affairs and Department of Defense, to address the serious issue of 
prescription drug abuse in both the active duty military and among 
veterans of all service, including the Reserve Component.