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Navy Targets Ecstasy Abuse
By JO1 Daniel Pearson
NAVPERSCOM Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NWS) — In the war on drugs, the Navy has a powerful new enemy: the synthetic "club drug" known as ecstasy. Its increasing abuse among Sailors over the last few years is cause for concern.

As a result, Navy leadership is reminding all hands that illegal drug use of any kind is a force protection issue that affects mission performance and safety; ecstasy is dangerous; and the Navy is committed to the policy of zero tolerance of illegal drug use.

While the actual number of Sailors who tested positive for ecstasy is relatively small, a disturbing trend is developing. Navy "positives" for ecstasy were 34 in FY98, 191 in FY99, and 238 in FY00.

According to Capt. John Jemionek, a member of the Navy's Drug Working Group on Ecstasy Abuse, a misconception some Sailors have is that the Navy doesn't test for ecstasy.

"Navy drug laboratories screen all military samples for the presence of ecstasy," according to Jemionek. He added that the Navy has also asked commercial vendors to develop an improved screening method to detect the drug, and that several new testing reagents are currently awaiting government approval.

"Navy drug laboratories will be introducing a more sensitive screening procedure to improve the detection of ecstasy at least three-fold," Jemionek explained.

In addition to enforcement of the Navy's "zero- tolerance" drug policy, the Navy is also increasing its efforts to educate Sailors and Navy leadership about the dangers and consequences of ecstasy abuse.

"Clearly, there is a need to get Sailors information on the health hazards of ecstasy abuse, the legal consequences of ecstasy abuse and the Navy Drug Screening Lab's capability to detect ecstasy through urinalysis," said Bill Flannery, head of the Navy's drug detection and deterrence branch.

To that end, the Navy will actively engage the chain of command at all levels, from work center supervisors to commanding officers, in a campaign to make everyone aware of the physical dangers and disciplinary ramifications of any illegal drug use, and to remind them that drug testing is an active, mandatory program.

The Navy's zero-tolerance policy on drugs is working, as the number of positive urinalysis results Navywide has dropped from 3.57 percent in FY85 to .78 percent in FY00.

Illegal drug use is simply incompatible with naval service, and Sailors who test positive will be discharged under adverse circumstances.

"The risks associated with ecstasy abuse are too great, relative to your career, to your safety and to readiness,"

Jemionek asserted. "It's a matter of safety -- yours and your shipmates. Don't accept the risk."

Further information on ecstasy can be found at http://navdweb.spawar.navy.mil or by contacting the Navy's Drug Detection and Deterrence Branch at (901) 874 4240 or DSN 882.red ribbon icon

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