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Myths/Conceptions: Setting the Record Straight on Drugs in the Navy
By JO1 James E. Scott
CINCLANTFLT Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NWS) — Zero tolerance...two words that sum up the Navy's policy on drugs. And although the Navy was recently singled out as the only military service with a significant decline in drug abuse since 1995, being proactive remains a necessary practice.

Toward that end, commands are encouraged to continue educating their Sailors about the adverse health and legal consequences of drug abuse. Many myths exist concerning this, often leading to the false impression that drug abuse is nothing out of the ordinary. The following information, provided by the Atlantic Fleet Drug Abuse Working Group, is intended to set the record straight and help dispel some of those myths.

Myth: Only some of the urine samples submitted are tested.
Reality: The Navy Drug Screening Laboratory tests every sample submitted from Navy commands.

Myth: Once I have a urinalysis, I'm safe to do drugs for a while.
Reality: Commands use a computer-based program designed to randomly select command personnel and testing days. The tests are conducted without warning and with no set pattern. You may be tested multiple times during a single month.

Myth: Navy urinalysis isn't very accurate.
Reality: The Navy Drug Screening Laboratory uses the most sophisticated equipment available and produces scientifically accurate and legally defensible results.

Myth: Club/Rave drugs (such as Ecstasy, Ice and Special K) are not very dangerous.
Reality: These mood- and consciousness-altering drugs have been around for 20 years or more. They are simply being repackaged with a new name to reach a new generation. They can be highly addictive, and lethal, if mixed with alcohol. Twenty-nine point one percent of Ecstasy users also abuse one or more other illegal substances, indicating it is likely to be a gateway drug.

Myth: Ecstasy is undetectable by Navy urinalysis and military working dogs.
Reality: Every urine sample is tested for Ecstasy. In addition, military working dogs are being trained to detect Ecstasy and other club drugs.

Myth: Marijuana is harmless.
Reality: Marijuana contains an unstable mixture of more than 425 toxic and psychoactive chemicals. It impairs memory, learning, motivation and reflexes, and has been found to be addictive. In addition, studies have shown that 12- to 17-year-olds who smoke marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those who do not.

Myth: Cocaine is hard to detect, because it leaves your body quickly.
Reality: Cocaine use can be detected up to 72 hours after the last use.

Myth: The only way to detect LSD use is through a spinal tap.
Reality: Navy urinalysis can detect LSD use.

Myth: If I get a drug discharge, it will automatically get upgraded in six months.
Reality: There is nothing automatic about a discharge review. The extremely complicated process requires that you show the Navy Discharge Review Board that the alleged entry or omission in the records was in error or unjust. The board receives hundreds of requests annually, and in the last three years not one drug discharge upgrade request was approved.

Myth: A drug discharge has little effect on my veteran's benefits.
Reality: If you are discharged due to drug abuse, you lose all of your benefits. This includes your Montgomery G.I. Bill and Federal College Fund benefits. And if you apply for student aid, the Department of Education must verify you have not been convicted of a drug-related offense. Lastly, your discharge papers are available to any employer who seeks background information on you. Only an honorable or general discharge guarantees you all the benefits due a veteran. The bottom line is that drug abuse in the Navy is a losing proposition. It can cost your health, your career, even your life. Make the right choice.

For more information on the Navy's drug screening program contact your local Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor, your local Urinalysis Program Coordinators, or visit http://www.dapmaeast.navy.mil. red ribbon icon

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