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Morphine Effective in Preventing PTSD, Military Finds

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Soldiers given morphine soon after sustaining an injury were half as likely as their comrades to later develop post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a study of 700 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reported Jan. 13 that U.S. Naval Health Research Center scientists were surprised by the effectiveness of morphine treatment but struggled to understand it. Researchers speculated that the drug may ease psychological trauma by reducing pain, perhaps causing the brain to craft less-traumatic memories of the incident in the process.

Further research is needed before the military adopts morphine treatment as standard for injury cases with the potential to lead to PTSD, researchers said.

The study was published in the Jan. 14, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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