True Stories 16 Terrifying Examples of Armies Hopped Up on Drugs  

Harmon Leon
60.8k views 16 items

Sure, you've heard of the War on Drugs but what about drug use during military conflict, drugs in the Army, and even wars where people were high? Throughout history, drugs and wars have gone hand in hand. Needless to say, a military conflict is a stressful environment and the stress of the battlefield can be traumatizing to soldiers - drug use and war are no strangers to one another.

Though there is a zero-tolerance policy in the military when it comes to drugs, many military personnel cope with the pressure by turning to self-medicating. Other times in history, drugs have been employed to give soldiers invincible courage on the battlefield. For centuries, drugs have been used by soldiers to calm their nerves and boost their courage to keep them fighting on the battlefield.

The role of drugs in military conflicts varies. It could be the fighting over opium importation, such as in the First Opium War, abusing drugs to numb the pain of the horrors of battle as in the Vietnam War, or to give soldiers a ruthless-edge as in the Napoleonic Wars. Sadly, the use of drugs by soldiers in the field of often spills over to addiction once the war is over.

Many different military conflicts have featured soldiers using drugs; this list details these cases and the types of drugs were predominant during the conflict - everything from heroin and morphine, to THC and magic mushrooms.

Amphetamines Keep Syrian Forces Fighting

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Speed seems to be the drug of choice for military conflicts; amphetamine has that dangerous combination of keeping soldiers fighting for days on end and keeping them from getting any sleep. In the Middle East, Syrian-made Captagon is the speed of choice, being employed by Isis fighters so they can stay alert during battle.

One minor setback: The drug, which was created in the '60s to treat hyperactivity and narcolepsy, is highly addictive. So addictive that it was banned in the '8os (that's how you know it's bad). It's also very cheap to make, yet has a street value of around $20 a tablet. The effects of Captagon keep the soldiers euphoric, sleepless, and energetic. The profits from Captagon sales are believed to be used by the Islamic State in Syria to buy weapons.

The First Opium War Was Non-Ironically Fought Over Opium

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Take a wild guess as to the prominent drug of the First Opium War. If you said "opium," then you are unsurprisingly correct. How it worked: Britain violated China's ban on the importation of opium, seeking to right an imbalance in the flow of trade between the two countries. The Chinese people quickly became addicted to the drug, including those in the army.

It is estimated that 90% of the Emperor’s Army was addicted to opium. Put that head-to-head with a superior British military and, well, you can predict the outcome.

The American Civil War Created "Soldier's Disease" and Morphine Addicts

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During the Civil War, morphine was considered a "wonder drug" for the wounded. It was also used as an anesthetic and pain killer during field amputations. The problem was, after the war, many wounded soldiers carried on with their morphine use.

It was estimated that 400,000 soldiers returned from the war as addicts. The term "soldier’s disease" was even coined to describe the addiction. By the end of the 19th century, there were one million Americans who had “soldier’s disease.”

Zulu Warriors Fought While Tripping on Mushrooms

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Photo: via Wikimedia
In the 1870s the British Empire wanted to conquer the Zulu Kingdom. To help combat their foes, the Zulus would use magic mushrooms and THC, packed in a snuff form. When the British came attacking, they just popped magic mushrooms and felt invincible.