Hidden Casualties in the War on Drugs

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If you wanted to explore the frontlines in the war on drugs, one of the places you’d visit would be Texas. Here, the border is a battleground between drug running cartels from Mexico and the citizens of the Lone Star State. And, while drug seizures, tunnels under the fence and the outrageous violence committed by cartels make the headlines, there are hidden casualties as well.

Just like other wars, our struggle to keep drugs out of the country has spawned refugees. In this case, they are the children who have entered the US and now suffer from PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is more commonly mentioned in the context of soldiers returning from combat, but any severe stress can induce it. And these kids have certainly undergone combat-worthy stresses.

According to a report in the Detroit News, one Texas social services worker put it this way, ”"What you see happening in Iraq or Afghanistan is the same that's happening here in the border. This is not a war like those, but still you have people fleeing their country.”

Children may have witnessed killings, kidnappings or simply lived part of their lives in constant fear of the cartels. These aren’t necessarily Mexican nationals either. Some of the youngsters have relatives in Mexico or lived close enough to the border to be immersed in the war from the US side.

US soldiers who return from battle receive exit counseling and an opportunity for PTSD treatment. Some of the same techniques are being used with these kids. It is unknown how much the early trauma will affect this generation when they become adults, but it is hard to believe that exposure to such violence in the formative years will have no effect at all. And as the war moves northward every year, we can expect more children to carry the emotional and psychological scars.

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