Research Paper: Drug Testing in the Army National Guard

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¶ … illegal drug use among military members. This is on the decline, a result of strong prevention programs instituted by the DoD and military branches. The root causes and scope of the problem are also discussed in this paper. Lastly, the paper will discuss the different preventative and corrective actions that the DoD should institute in order to continue its success in dealing with illegal drug use among servicemen and women.

In general, drug use among our servicemen and women is relatively low. Outside of the Air Force, the statistics show that between 1-2% of servicemen and women are found to have illegal drugs in their system during routine drug tests. The Air Force figures are lower, in the 0.4-0.6% range (Gilmore, 2011). The in-service figures contrast with the military entrance processing station applicants, who recorded 3.28% positive tests. This paper will discuss the rates at which servicemen and woman test positive for illegal drugs, and will discuss some of the root causes of this drug abuse and the potential corrective actions that can be taken to curb this abuse. The latter are especially important to consider because there are other forms of drug abuse that also affect servicemen and woman, including alcohol and prescription drug addiction, both of which have increased in the years since 2001 (NIDA, 2011).

The Scope of the Problem

A 2008 survey conducted by the Department of Defense showed that servicemen and women have reduced their consumption of illegal drugs over the past few years (NIDA, 2011), but rates are still higher than the military would prefer. The survey identified a number of potential causes of the abuse that occurs. These potential causes include mental illness, stress, access to drugs and a lack of services to help prevent or correct drug use. It has been found that heavy alcohol use among servicemen and women increases post-deployment, so the intensive missions in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past several years may also contribute to drug use among the military community (Jacobson et al., 2008).

Potential Root Causes

The military life is a high-stress occupation, but it is also a highly-disciplined one. Rates of illegal drug use in the military, according to the 2001 survey, are below those of the general public. However, there are still underlying root causes that result in illegal drug use by members of the military community. Drug use is related to a number of factors including post-traumatic stress disorder, general stress, and the availability of drugs. It is believed that while this only impacts a small percentage of our servicemen and women, illegal drug use can be curtailed.

Curtailing Illegal Drug Use

In the past ten years, military branches have undertaken a number of steps to curtail illegal drug use, including stronger prevention programs. According to the 2008 Department of Defense survey, these efforts have enjoyed some success. However, there have also been some criticisms as well. The Army has often failed to process a discharge for soldiers who have recorded multiple positive urinalysis tests (Zoroya, 2009). Critics have charged that commanding officers are oriented towards keeping up numbers of combat troops for deployment and put… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Drug Testing in the Army National Guard.  (2011, September 8).  Retrieved September 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/drug-testing-army-national-guard/48730

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"Drug Testing in the Army National Guard."  8 September 2011.  Web.  17 September 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/drug-testing-army-national-guard/48730>.

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"Drug Testing in the Army National Guard."  Essaytown.com.  September 8, 2011.  Accessed September 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/drug-testing-army-national-guard/48730.