Interviewer: What are the most common drugs you see people abusing and getting in trouble for?
In The Military, It Is More Difficult to Hide the Use of Hard Narcotics
Chris Cazares: Currently, Marijuana is pretty common. Right now, spice is pretty common as well. Prescription drugs are common and Ecstasy is pretty common. You don’t see a lot of the crack cocaine or methamphetamine use, which is the opposite of civilian society.
You’ll see cocaine, just regular cocaine, but it’s opposite of society, because the ability to function and keep use of the drug under the radar on such a hard narcotic is less likely.
What Detection Methods Does the Military Use When Investigating Drug Use?
The detection is going to be different, as well. For instance, with alcohol-related crimes, unless you have an eyewitness or you’re pulled over, that’s pretty much the only way that you’re going to get caught drinking.
The Military Utilizes a Random Drug Testing Program
In the military, there’s the Random Drug Testing Program for each service, and, essentially, there’s a few ways that you can get caught using drugs. One is the Random Drug Testing Program, which numbers are drawn or, depending on the base or the service, individuals are randomly selected for urinalysis.
The Drug Testing Program Is Strictly Monitored
That individual, once they’re selected for urinalysis, they have to report in within a couple of hours, to take a urinalysis. The urinalysis, itself, is strictly monitored, too. You sign in. You will present your military identification card and an observer goes with you to the restroom.
They have eyes on the bottle, the entire time and then the observer actually has to watch the urine leave the body and go into the bottle.
You’re not allowed to wash your hands beforehand, because they want to make sure that there’s no contaminant. Once you have sealed the bottles, you can rinse your hands off, and then you carry the bottle back. You sign your initials before and after. Then, that specimen is sent off to the drug testing laboratory.
When Testing for the Presence of Drugs, the Military Incorporates a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Test (GCMS) Test
At the drug testing laboratory, all of the urine is put through both an amino assay test, and then, also, what is called “a GCMS test.”
What they do is they flag the first test with the amino acid; this test is considered the prescreen. If the result is positive, they screen it again. Then, finally, they confirm it by using the GCMS test.
At that point, the specimen is saved and the information is sent back to the unit, so they can make a determination on what they’re going to do with the individual.
If a Military Member Tests Positive for Drug Use, They Will Be Questioned by Military Special Investigators
Often times, the persons called into the security forces, military police, the Office of Special Investigators, Naval Crime Scene Investigations, whatever investigating branch, and questioned about their role in drug use.
If a Military Member Appears Obviously Intoxicated, a Drug Test Would Be Ordered
Another obvious method of detection is if the military member reports for duty visibly intoxicated. That’s the issue with something like spice or some other hallucinogen, but especially methamphetamine.
Those are easily, readily detectable drugs, where the intoxicating effects are so obvious in somebody who’s using it that, that if a person suspects another individual of using drugs, obviously, Article 31 rights are attached.
They would have to read them their Article 31 rights but even if they do not want to participate in the questioning, if the smell, the look, the basis for a search of the body, in other words, probable cause exists, the individual can be ordered to either have a blood draw or a urinalysis, and, in that situation, the same process applies, except it’s on a smaller spectrum.
Military Members Who Test Positive for Drugs Are Subject to Repeat and Frequent Testing
Interviewer: How often do military members test positive for drug use?
Chris Cazares: When a military member tests positive for drugs, after that initial positive reading, they no longer have to randomly select you. They can just start testing you over and over, until you actually pass the test.
So, your period of exposure, where you have chance to get in serious trouble increases dramatically. Let’s say an individual is addicted they test positive for cocaine.
The presence of cocaine in your system leaves the body within three days, generally. [Inaudible 18:05]. That is an indicator to the military that you should be subject to frequent testing, so if you are addicted, the presence will be detected in one of those subsequent tests.
It should be noted that each test that comes back positive for drug use, increases a military member’s punitive exposure. At that point, they’re likely to have searched your room. So, it’s all about detection. If you just get caught the first time, you realize that you may get in trouble, and possibly you are able to stop using drugs.
I think there is a good deal of addiction occurring, particularly for the prescription drugs or the harder narcotics. I don’t think it is as common as in civilian life but it does happen. For military members, I think the addiction and the possibility of being addicted is just as great as civilians.