Army probes drug use by soldiers in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Sgt. Cornelius Trammell, clears a hurdle as he demonstrates one of the elements of the Army's new Combat Readiness Test, at Fort Jackson, in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, March 1, 2011.  The Army plans to toughen its fitness tests for the first time in 30 years to make sure all soldiers have the strength, endurance and mobility for battle.  (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)

U.S. Army Sgt. Cornelius Trammell, clears a hurdle as he demonstrates one of the elements of the Army's new Combat Readiness Test, at Fort Jackson, in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, March 1, 2011. The Army plans to toughen its fitness tests for the first time in 30 years to make sure all soldiers have the strength, endurance and mobility for battle. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Newly obtained data shows that the U.S. Army has investigated 56 soldiers in Afghanistan over the last two years on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other drugs.

During that time, eight soldiers died of drug overdoses.

While the cases represent just a slice of possible drug abuse by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they provide a somber snapshot of the illicit trade in the war zone.

Activities include young Afghans peddling heroin, soldiers dying after mixing cocktails of opiates, troops stealing from medical bags and Afghan soldiers and police dealing drugs to their U.S. comrades.

U.S. Army officials say that while the presence of such readily available opium is a concern, opiate abuse has not been a pervasive problem for troops in Afghanistan.


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