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
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
Reality: Every urine sample is tested for Ecstasy. In addition,
military working dogs are being trained to detect Ecstasy and other
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
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
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
For more information on the Navy's drug screening program contact
your local Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor, your local Urinalysis
Program Coordinators, or