What we can learn from Vietnam War veterans about heroin addictions

Roundup
tags: veterans, Vietnam War, heroin



James Clear writes about using behavioral science to master your habits and improve your health. His free guide, Transform Your Habits, has been downloaded more than 80,000 times. This post originally appeared on his blog.

It was 1971 and the Vietnam War was heading into its 16th year when two congressmen, Robert Steele from Connecticut and Morgan Murphy from Illinois, made a discovery that stunned the American public.

While visiting the troops in Vietnam, the two congressmen discovered that over 15 percent of US soldiers had developed an addiction to heroin. (Later research, which tested every American soldier in Vietnam for heroin addiction, would reveal that 40 percent of servicemen had tried heroin and nearly 20 percent were addicted.)

The discovery shocked the American public and led to a flurry of activity in Washington, which included President Richard Nixon announcing the creation of a new office called The Special Action Office of Drug Abuse Prevention.

The office was created to promote prevention and rehabilitation of drug addictions and also to track and research the paths of addicted servicemen and women when they returned home. It was this last part, the tracking of returning soldiers, that led to some surprising insights.

Lee Robins, one of the researchers in charge of tracking the veterans, found that when the soldiers returned to the United States only 5 percent of them became re-addicted to heroin. In other words, 95 percent eliminated their addiction nearly overnight...




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