A new law will require the Pentagon to start compiling data in 2024 on overdoses within the ranks, and to make available to troops an antidote for opioid overdoses, as the U.S. continues to battle increasing casualties from the fentanyl crisis.
Previously, overdoses within the military — fatal and non-fatal — weren't systematically tracked. The Defense Department will now have to maintain information such as what substances were involved in an overdose, whether doctor-prescribed drugs were also involved in an overdose, and how many overdoses are deemed intentional or accidental, following the passage of the annual defense policy bill last month.
Pressure began to build in Congress to take action to combat the rising number of overdose deaths in the military following a 2022 Rolling Stone report that exposed a string of overdose deaths at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, now renamed Fort Liberty, prompting Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers to push the Pentagon for information.
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As a result of that request, the Pentagon determined that the number of military deaths involving fentanyl doubled between 2017 and 2021, mirroring escalating fatalities nationally as the drug has flooded the country.
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. The synthetic opioid has…