McCaskill introduces military drug abuse bill

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | 8:54 a.m. CST; updated 11:23 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 24, 2009

COLUMBIA — Sen. Claire McCaskill wants the Army to clean up its method for treating soldiers with drug and alcohol problems.

The Missouri Democrat introduced legislation Tuesday calling for changes in the military's approach to substance abuse. The bill was spurred by reports of growing prescription drug abuse by wounded soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood and other Army bases.

The proposed changes include an independent review of military drug abuse and treatment by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science or a similar outside agency.

Army records show that legal painkiller use by injured troops has increased nearly 70 percent since the start of the Iraq war six years ago. Surveys show that more soldiers are struggling with prescription drug addiction while also seeking help from Army doctors and counselors.

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