from scotsman: British troops are being prescribed with a controversial drug which has been blamed for making US pilots "trigger-happy" and causing friendly fire deaths.
While the MoD has refused to say what it uses the Class B drug for, leading narcotics experts say that the main purpose is to keep soldiers awake during special operations. However, they have warned that the substance can be highly addictive.
In addition, the MoD has admitted that it permits soldiers to take a drug called kava-kava, from the South Pacific, which is known to be linked to severe liver damage.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information provisions show that although the amount the MoD spends on dexedrine is just £32 per year, this is estimated to be enough for several hundred 5mg doses. A typical course will see a user given the pills for about two or three days.
Outwith the armed forces, the amphetamine is used to treat narcolepsy, a condition where sufferers cannot stop falling asleep at random times.
In addition to dexedrine, the MoD dispenses a small number of tablets of ephedrine, which has a similar, though less potent, effect.
The ministry also spends about £3,000 a year on melatonin, a substance which aids sleep, in order to get the body clocks of troops into synch after flying long distances.
Amphetamines have been controversially used by the US Air Force to keep pilots awake on long missions, although the UK has always denied giving the 'go pills' to its pilots.
In 2002, the 'Tarnak Farm incident' saw US fighter-bombers attack a group of Canadian soldiers, killing four and wounding another eight near Kandahar in Afghanistan.
During official hearings into the incident, the US pilots testified that they had been ordered to take amphetamines to keep awake. The pilots blamed the pills for their actions.