Since Nixon, back in the early 70s, the military has labored to draw a pretty clear line in the sand regarding its people and drugs. Not unlike our last few presidents, an enormous amount of money has been spent trying both to weed out drug users and also deal with substance abuse issues as they arise.

 

A Quick Note About Military Alcohol Policy (Official and Unofficial)

Just for funsies, I will say that military drug policy and military alcohol policy are basically nothing alike, and it goes something like this:

Drug: “zero tolerance”

Alcohol: “enormous tolerance”

This isn’t the popular opinion, by the way. Military officials who are basically PR figureheads will swear up and down that the military doesn’t tolerate alcohol abuse and works its ass off to deglamorize the notions of drunken sailor, soldier, jarhead, flyboy, etc. And while I believe they try their hardest, the truth is that drinking is still a tremendous part of most military experiences. True for me, and true for 90% of the military people I’ve known.

To clarify, does this mean you can walk into any command and find military people drinking on duty? No. Officially, and in most cases, military environments are pretty professional and clean cut. The military, regardless of branch, has an obsession with appearances. This is just as well, because much of the time, how you present yourself becomes how you see yourself, not to mention the connection between that and how others perceive you. There’s merit to that mentality.

On the unofficial side, are there bottles stashed in vent shafts, neglected technical manuals, and taped to the bottom of floor tiles on Navy ships? Damn right there are. Same tricks may very well apply to offices, not that I spent much time in those environments. The point is, the military doesn’t tolerate drug use, but alcohol is still not only only a part of the stigma, but also a major part of the military lifestyle.

(To be fair, I’m referring to the majority here. I don’t usually like generalizations, but here, it’s definitely true… If you want data, there’s plenty of it out there)

Military Drug Policy (Also Official and Unofficial)

It’s simple. If your ambition leads you to military service, don’t do drugs. There’s plenty of history surrounding why drugs are not acceptable in military environments, if common sense doesn’t fill in the blanks for you. Again, a generalization: everyone knows the point of drugs-to make you feel, think, or behave differently. This isn’t really the place for a philosophical breakdown of drug use, nor is it a good moral sounding board either.

Suffice to say that it’s 100% rational to keep military affairs free of drugs. For at least one true to life example what happens in a military setting when something as domestic (and comparatively harmless) as weed is present, check out what happened to the USS Nimitz in May 1981, in which an EA-6B Prowler failed to land properly, killing 14 crew members.

 

Drug Testing

All DoD (Department of Defense) employees are subject to at least one drug screening per year. In the military, it’s often much more frequent than that. In fact, in situations where commands have reason to suspect drug rings or unusual behavior, I’ve heard of commands being tested at least monthly, and suspected individuals being tested weekly. They take it all pretty seriously, and make no mistake, you’ll be under a microscope if you give the military reason to suspect you’re using.

For those joining the military, you will conduct a urinalysis during your second visit to MEPS (Military Entrance and Processing Station), right before your final swear in. You’ll also have to fill out this form, which is a legal document (and therefore lying opens you up to court martial) asking about any drug related behavior during your enlistment and time spent in DEP (Delayed Entry Program).

Up to this point, you’ve been working with a recruiter and a military career counselor and haven’t had to do much more than verbally attest to your behavior or drug involvement. However, once you arrive at this point, if you’ve been keeping anything from the recruiters or military career counselors, now is the time to pipe up before the results from the drug test come back. It’s an awful thing to be two months into boot camp only to find out that the crap you got into prior to shipping out has just bought you an early discharge for perjuring yourself.

In addition to a drug screening at MEPS (2nd visit), you’ll undergo another one after shipping out to basic training as well, within the first day or two of processing to ensure there was nothing put into your system while in transit to boot camp.

 

courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaporizers_/

Fooling the Drug Screening

Sorry. There’s no “how to” in this article, because I vehemently disagree with that kind of thinking. Don’t misunderstand me: I think civilians should be allowed to put into their body whatever they damn well feel like without worrying about the government condemning them to 20+ in prison. I disagree tremendously with the incongruence between the legality of alcohol (a nasty, sloppy drug that has an extremely slow detox process, and changes personalities for the worse) and the illegality of marijuana (which I never inhaled, but nevertheless takes a personality and either elevates it, or makes it docile). But again, this isn’t intended as a political blog.

However, I fully agree with and support the military’s zero tolerance drug policy. It’s in place for a good reason, and it is the aim of this blog to dissuade anyone who still feels the need to use drugs to just keep doing what they’re doing as a civilian. If you want to live the drug lifestyle, then fine, just stay out of the military. Don’t try to game the system, don’t try to beat the machine. Either stop and enlist, or don’t and stay out.

 

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