List of psychoactive drugs used by militaries

Militaries worldwide have used or are using various psychoactive drugs to improve performance of soldiers by suppressing hunger, increasing the ability to sustain effort without food, increasing and lengthening wakefulness and concentration, suppressing fear, reducing empathy, and improving reflexes and memory-recall, amongst other things.[1][2]


For drugs that recently were or currently are being used by militaries.
Administration tends to include strict medical supervision and prior briefing of the medical risks.[citation needed]
Caffeine, diet pills, painkillers and alcohol are not featured in the list, neither is non-administrated, illegal usage.

Substance Description United States PRC India Germany UK France
(and close derivatives)
US Air Force and potentially other branches prescribed it to pilots for long endurance flights or for critical missions. Until 2017[3][1][4][5][6][7] Un­known Un­known Until 1970s/1988(East)[5][8][9] Un­known Un­known
Fenethylline Used by ISIS in combat and smuggled for financing activities.[10][11][12][13][14] Responsible for the biggest methamphetamine related seizure in history when $1B worth of Fenethylline was intercepted at an Italian port in 2020.[15] Un­known Un­known Un­known Un­known Un­known Un­known
Modafinil Militaries of several countries are known to have expressed interest in modafinil as an alternative to amphetamine – the drug traditionally employed in combat situations where troops face sleep deprivation, such as during lengthy missions. The French government indicated that the Foreign Legion used modafinil during certain covert operations.[citation needed] The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence commissioned research into modafinil[16] from QinetiQ and spent £300,000 on one investigation.[17] In 2011, the Indian Air Force announced that modafinil was included in contingency plans.[18]

In the United States military, modafinil has been approved for use on certain Air Force missions, and it is being investigated for other uses.[19] As of November 2012, modafinil is the only drug approved by the Air Force as a "go pill" for fatigue management.[20] The use of dextroamphetamine (a.k.a., Dexedrine) is no longer approved.[20]
Yes[19][21][22] Confirmed testing[6] Yes[18][21][23][24] Un­known Yes[21][25] Yes[6][21][26][27]
Sleeping pills
See no-go pills[4] Un­known Yes[24] Un­known Un­known Un­known


  • Benzedrine was claimed to have been administered by Allied forces during WWII, esp. by the US[2][28]
    • Germany and Japan used methamphetamine.[29]
  • Methamphetamine ("Panzerschokolade") during WWII by Nazi Germany[30][31]
    • Fliegerschokolade [de] was the eponymous name that the Luftwaffe are claimed to have used.
    • D-IX was a combination of Methamphetamine, Oxycodone, and Cocaine that was produced in 1944 but could not be mass produced before the war ended.[32] It was part of a future generation of "pep pills" for the German military and was tested on concentration camp prisoners.[33]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Stoker, Liam (14 April 2013). "Creating Supermen: battlefield performance enhancing drugs". Army Technology. Verdict Media Limited. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Kamienski, Lukasz (8 April 2016). "The Drugs That Built a Super Soldier". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  3. ^ "'Go pills': A war on drugs?". MSNBC. 27 February 2004. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b "This is Your Military on Drugs". New Republic. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Die Super-Soldaten, die auf den Schlachtfeldern der Zukunft kämpfen werden" (in German). Vice Motherboard. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Saletan, William (29 May 2013). "The War on Sleep". Slate. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  7. ^ "U.S. Combat Pilots on Speed". ABC News. 6 January 2006. Archived from the original on 2011-01-31.
  8. ^ Hurst, Fabienne (17 May 2013). ""Pervitin" – Großvater des Crystal Meth". Der Spiegel. Spiegel Online. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  9. ^ ""Wunderpille" Pervitin – Drogeneinnahme für das Vaterland". 3Sat. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  10. ^ Todd, Brian; McConnell, Dugald (21 November 2015). "Syria fighters may be fueled by amphetamines". CNN. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Captagon, ISIS's favorite amphetamine, explained". Vox. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  12. ^ Henley, Jon (13 January 2014). "Captagon: the amphetamine fuelling Syria's civil war". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  13. ^ "This is the tiny pill fuelling the Syrian civil war". The Independent. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  14. ^ "These Are the People Making Captagon, the Drug ISIS Fighters Take to Feel 'Invincible'". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  15. ^ Nadeau, Barbie Latza (2020-07-01). "Italian Police on Amalfi Coast Seize 84 Million 'Captagon' Pills Shipped by ISIS From Syria". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  16. ^ Wheeler B (October 26, 2006). "BBC report on MoD research into modafinil". BBC News. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  17. ^ "MoD's secret pep pill to keep forces awake". The Scotsman. February 27, 2005. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Pilot pill project". News – City. PuneMirror. February 16, 2011. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  19. ^ a b Taylor GP, Jr; Keys RE (December 1, 2003). "Modafinil and management of aircrew fatigue" (PDF). United States Department of the Air Force. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 12, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  20. ^ a b Air Force Special Operations Command Instruction 48–101 Archived 2014-06-11 at the Wayback Machine (sects. 1.7.4), U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, November 30, 2012.
  21. ^ a b c d "PLA eyes 'Night Eagle' to make army of night owls". South China Morning Post. 16 October 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  22. ^ "Super Soldiers? Military Drug New Rage". ABC News. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  23. ^ "IAF pilots pop pills to get fighting edge". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  24. ^ a b "Indian Air Force pilots popping pills to 'heighten alertness'". DAWN. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  25. ^ "UK army tested 'stay awake' pills". BBC News. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Medicine developed for Chinese Army to fight sleep". Korea Times. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Stay Awake, Comrades". Psychology Today. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  28. ^ Rasmussen N (July 2006). "Making the first anti-depressant: amphetamine in American medicine, 1929–1950". J. Hist. Med. Allied Sci. 61 (3): 288–323. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrj039. PMID 16492800. S2CID 24974454.
  29. ^ "WW II German soldiers, civilians dropped amphetamines to give them boost to battle allies". NY Daily News. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Soldiers Have Used Drugs to Enhance Their Killing Capabilities in Basically Every War". Vice. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  31. ^ Ulrich, Andreas. "The Nazi Death Machine: Hitler's Drugged Soldiers". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  32. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2006). Weapons of desperation : German frogmen and midget submarines of the Second World War. London: Chatham. ISBN 978-1-86176-279-5. OCLC 65470074.
  33. ^ "Jeevan Vasagar: cocaine-based "wonder drug" tested on concentration camp inmates". 19 November 2002. Retrieved 15 January 2011.

External linksEdit