According to an investigation by the Austin American Statesman, over one third of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans from Texas who died after being discharged from service did so by drug overdose or suicide.
The news report searched the cause of death for over 250 veterans in Texas. Those veterans who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, 80 percent died from a drug overdose, suicide or a single vehicle wreck.
Nearly 50 veterans died from drug overdoses. 40 cases involved prescription pills. Five veterans in the study died from a cocaine or heroin overdose. One veteran died from huffing aerosol and one overdosed on Ecstacy. Most of these vets were less than 35 years old.
The newspaper also reported that about as many Texas vets died from prescription drug overdose as suicide. Although evidence shows that painkiller medication is dangerous for sufferers with PTSD, the amount of pain killer prescription by doctors from Veterans Affairs has risen dramatically since the war.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people who are treated for both substance abuse and PTSD have improved PTSD symptoms without increasing the severity of their substance abuse problem. This research discredits previous theories that treating PTSD increases substance abuse by bringing up painful memories for the veterans.