"Painkillers are good for two weeks to about six weeks. Then you have to come off of them," he said. "If not, part of your brain gets re-wired chemically. Well, I was on painkillers from May 2006 until February 2008." Years of physical activity, training, and deployments-including several hundred parachute jumps-left him unable to use his left leg due to acute neurological and skeletal damage. He was in command of Special Operations in the Pacific at the time. Experiencing severe, chronic back pain because of these work-related activities, he sought relief from prescribed medication, including the opioids Oxycontin and Roxicet.
I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I was just in pain," Fridovich said. "What you find out is, the more you use, the less they work. You get saturated."
For nearly five years, the Green Beret general quietly had been hooked on narcotics he has taken for chronic pain — a reflection of an addiction problem that is spreading across the military.
USA TODAY newspaper reported An internal Army investigation report revealed that 25% to 35% of about 10,000 soldiers assigned to special units for the wounded, ill or injured are addicted to or dependent on drugs, according to their nurses and case managers. Doctors in those care units told investigators they need training in other ways to manage pain besides only using narcotics.