KABUL, Afghanistan, April 22 (UPI) -- Eight American soldiers died of opiate overdoses during Afghanistan deployments in 2010 and 2011, U.S. Army investigative reports revealed.
The eight were among 56 soldiers the Army investigated for suspicion of possessing, using or distributing heroin and other opiates, CNN reported Saturday. Overall, the use of heroin by U.S. soldiers apparently is on the rise overall, with 116 testing positive in fiscal year 2010, compared with 10 in fiscal 2010, the network said.
Afghanistan is estimated to supply more than 90 percent of the world's opium, and a 2009 U.N. study suggested the Taliban insurgency has stockpiled the drug to finance its activities.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, told CNN the group is concerned that perhaps military families are not aware of the added risk in Afghanistan.
"There is a dotted line between the uses. Prescription abuse can easily veer into heroin drug use," Fitton said. "Afghanistan is the capital of this opiate production and the temptation is great there and the opportunity for drug use all the more."