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US Army Expands Drug Testing Program To Include Prescription Benzodiazepines

As of November 19th, the Department of Defense has expanded its drug testing program to include testing for certain prescription benzodiazepine medications, such as Xanax, Restoril, and Valium. These drugs, along with 32 others, will be added to the list of substances that soldiers are currently tested for. This list, as of November, includes marijuana (THC), MDEA and MDA, opiates (Heroin, Codeine, and Morphine), MDMA (ecstasy), oxycodone/oxymorphone (OxyContin), amphetamines (methamphetamines), cocaine, and PCP.

The process has begun at Fort Sill, Okla, and as of now all soldiers have passed the drug tests. Before, in 2012, 140 soldiers at Fort Sill tested positive for other prohibited substances, with marijuana coming in first for the highest number of positive results followed by Spice (synthetic THC).

This addition to the drug testing procedure is primarily to identify soldiers who are unlawfully using illegal substances without a valid prescription. Military and civilian drug testing coordinator Sandy Jefferson explained that there is a phenomenon of soldiers returning from battle wounded, and then becoming addicted to their medication after their prescriptions have expired. Although it is important to recognize soldiers that need help, it is likely that soldiers will make the mistake of continuing to take extra pills a few days after their prescriptions have expired. This could lead to the problem of testing positive for drugs that they are “illegally” consuming when in fact they are only a day or two over the expiration date.

US army officials have reaffirmed the fact that soldiers who test positive for drugs that have been prescribed to them by their health providers (and have not expired) do not and will not have anything to worry about.

If a soldier does test positive for any illegal drug, then he or she is subject to disciplinary action. However, army officials have stated that they strongly encourage soldiers who feel as if they may have a problem to seek help with the Army Substance Abuse Program.