Drug Environment During And After Vietnam War

Thanks to reader, James, for sharing this info. Great stuff. Again, if you have not seen the posts on Ron’s Air Force military career, etc, please use the search button. Gracias!

I am also trying to hook up an interview with one of Ron’s close relatives… stay tuned, kids!


I have no empirical research other than historical military research that indicates that the drugs opium, heroin, amytal and seconal were readily available in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Ron served at the Ubon Airbase, the home of America’s major secret bombing campaign of 1966-67.
“drugs were available to U.S. forces. In 1967 opium cost $1.00 while morphine went for $5.00 per vial. Tablets of Binoctal, an addictive drug consisting of Amytal and Seconal, were available in tablet form from Vietnamese children at from $1.00 to $5.00 for twenty tablets. Although technically a prescription drug, Binoctal was available over the counter at almost any Vietnamese pharmacy for about eight piasters for twenty tablets. Twenty tablets, consumed at once, was a fatal dose. One soldier had died from Binoctal use, and three near-fatalities had been reported. “O.J.’s” were opium joints.”
The soldiers were affected by the drug differently in the US than in South East Asia. Why? Because in the US heroin was generally used in intravenously because it wasn’t “readily available” in the US. 20% of US GI’s came home having been regular users, 15% of that group quit upon coming home and an additional 3% ceased use with treatment. Ron was one of the 1%-2% that remained hooked upon return. He never received treatment because they were just becoming aware of the problem in 1966-67. In fact they ignored the drug problem over there largely until after 1967.

Ron’s addiction changed radically when he returned home because it wasn’t so readily available in the US as it was in South East Asia and the drug is used intravenously in the US. There is a massive difference between smoking heroin VS intravenous drug use. If you smoke opium or heroin, you can kick easier than when you use heroin intravenously. So Ron was forced to steal and cross borders to keep his intensified intravenous addiction alive.