Being a soldier is a fundamental calling. They defend their country with their life if needed, and they are continuously exposed to high-risk situations.
This is why the US military has a quite strict requirement regarding the use of illicit substances, and it demands that all soldiers must be sober and alert always. So read on to find out more about how soldiers are tested for drugs and whether or not drug testing in the military is mandatory.
Drug test when enlisting in the military
As a general rule, the military personnel in all branches are tested on a random basis for drugs. However, when the time of enlistment comes, all future soldiers are tested for drugs. The military enlistment process supposes that the soldier will visit the MEPS- or the Military Entrance Processing Station.
Here, candidates will undergo the ASVAB test, they will discuss in detail the future career path in the military, and they will also experience a thorough medical investigation. During this exam, a particular part is taking a drug test, more precisely urinalysis.
The candidates are asked to submit a urine sample which is then sent to a lab for further investigations. In the lab, the experts will test the sample for drug content. They are especially testing urine for Amphetamines, Marijuana (Cannabinoids), Cocaine, PCP & LSD and also barbiturates or opioids.
During the interview at MEPS, it is essential to divulge if you have been using drugs in the past. Lying about such a matter can easily lead to termination of your enlistment.
Even if the truth comes out months or years after you are enrolled, they will still terminate your duty if found that you have a history of drug use.
Drug testing is not over once you are in the military
If things came out well during the pre-enlistment drug testing and the results are negative, you can join the military. However, drug testing does not stop once you enter the military sphere.
According to strict regulations, all members that are duty-active will participate randomly in drug tests. Whenever it is asked of them to provide urine samples for testing, they must succumb to the orders.
Also, when a commander or a higher ranked military member suspects that a soldier might be using drugs while on duty, he must report it and then a drug testing will occur.
The Military & prescription drugs
Several studies have shown that a large portion of the active military is addicted to antidepressants and painkiller medication. These reports discuss how the soldiers are exposed to a great deal of stress during their productive years (being deployed, harsh training, etc.) and this is why many of them end up being addicted to such medication.
The main problem is that many painkillers contain opioid substances, and thus a drug test could give false-positive results. It means that a soldier taking larger quantities of Oxycontin (an opioid painkiller) can get a positive on drugs result during testing.
Besides antidepressants and opioid painkillers, it is also noted the military spends too much on sleep medication which again may contain opioid traces.