Myth Drug Use Was Rampant In Vietnam

Much has been made of drug use among personnel in Vietnam. What is ironic is that the overwhelming percentage of American drug users were civilians, and a very high percentage of anti-war activists were drug users. The number of drug-related arrests by Military Police officers and CID agents during the war actually represents a much smaller percentage of drug use among the military than in the overall civilian population during the Vietnam War.

Further, drug use in Vietnam was confined almost exclusively to personnel stationed at base camps and other relatively secure installations. Drug use in the field was rare and was discouraged even by personnel who used drugs in the rear. The reasoning was fairly straightforward: drug use in the field endangered lives. It was not a "victimless crime" in the field. Peer pressure was usually enough to discourage drug use when in the field. Those who were stupid enough to use drugs in the field were often beaten senseless by their non-drug-using comrades. Those that persisted were usually killed in action, sometimes by hostile fire, and occasionally, tragically, by friendly fire.