What Drug Test Does the Army Use? Everything You Need to Know

As an increasing number of people are struggling with drug addiction, it’s no surprise that the army has strict rules when it comes to conducting drug tests. Every year, many people in the army undergo drug testing to maintain a drug-free environment. But what drug test does the army use to ensure its soldiers are compliant with these rules?

The most common drug test the army uses is the urinalysis test. This particular test is extremely precise and can detect drugs consumed up to several weeks before the test. Most candidates are tested for six drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. Moreover, the military drug test is also designed to detect the consumption of alcohol. It’s one of the rigorous substance screening tests and happens frequently throughout the year to army members.

Taking banned substances significantly impacts performance and poses security threats, making it tough for the army to achieve its goals. As such, it’s crucial that soldiers are screened regularly to ensure they maintain their integrity, reliability, and readiness to serve whenever called upon. While drug testing might seem an extreme precaution, it’s necessary to keep a sharp eye on the well-being and safety of the soldiers and the broader public. The military drug test is, therefore, an indispensable part of the army culture that shapes it into a robust and responsible organization.

Types of Drug Tests Used in the Military

The military has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use. To enforce this policy and maintain the safety and effectiveness of its personnel, the military employs various drug testing methods. These tests can detect a wide range of substances and have different detection times, accuracy levels, and costs.

  • Urinalysis: This is the most common drug test used in the military. It detects a wide range of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and PCP. The test is simple, quick, and non-invasive, making it the preferred choice for routine screenings. However, it has a shorter detection window than other tests and can produce false positives or negatives in some cases.
  • Hair follicle test: This test measures drug use over a longer period (up to 90 days) and can detect a wider range of substances than urinalysis. It involves taking a small sample of hair from the individual’s scalp and testing it for drug metabolites. However, it’s more expensive and time-consuming than urinalysis and can be affected by hair treatments and external contaminants.
  • Blood test: Blood testing is a precise method that can detect drug use within a few hours or days. It’s often used in cases where immediate detection is necessary, such as post-accident or reasonable suspicion testing. However, it’s an invasive procedure that requires specialized equipment and trained personnel, making it more costly and time-consuming than other tests.

Frequency of Drug Testing in the Army

For obvious reasons, the Army has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal drug use. As a result, soldiers are subject to regular drug testing in order to maintain the integrity and readiness of their units.

So, how often do Army members get drug tested?

  • New recruits can expect to undergo drug testing as part of their pre-enlistment processing.
  • After joining the Army, soldiers are typically tested at least once a year. However, the frequency of testing can vary depending on a number of factors:
    • Soldiers in high-risk occupations or units, such as pilots or Special Forces, may be tested more frequently than others.
    • Suspicion of drug use can also trigger a drug test, even if it is not a scheduled test.
    • In the event of an accident, all involved soldiers may be tested for drugs as part of the investigation.

To ensure fairness and impartiality, drug tests are conducted randomly, with soldiers being selected based on a computer-generated system. This system is designed to prevent predictable patterns of testing and reduce the likelihood of soldiers being able to avoid detection by only using drugs during certain times of the year.

Overall, the Army’s drug testing program is an essential part of maintaining the strength and readiness of our Armed Forces. By ensuring that soldiers are drug-free, the Army can be confident in their decision-making abilities and the safety of all involved.

For more information on the specifics of Army drug testing, take a look at the table below:

Type of Test Drug Classes Screened Threshold for Positive Result
Urinalysis Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates, Phencyclidine (PCP) Varies depending on the drug. For example, the threshold for marijuana is 50ng/ml, while amphetamines have a 1000ng/ml threshold.

It’s important to note that while the Army tests for the same five drug classes as other drug testing programs, the thresholds for positive results can be lower due to the zero-tolerance policy. For some drugs, such as marijuana, this can mean that trace amounts in a soldier’s system can lead to a positive result.

The Consequences of Failing a Military Drug Test

Failing a military drug test can have severe consequences on a military career. The military has strict rules and regulations regarding drug use, and any violation of these rules can lead to disciplinary action and even discharge from service. Here are some of the possible consequences of failing a military drug test:

  • Disciplinary Action: Depending on the type of drug and the circumstances surrounding the positive test, disciplinary action can range from counseling to court-martial proceedings. The severity of the punishment can vary depending on the level of drug involvement and the individual’s rank.
  • Loss of Security Clearance: Many military positions require a security clearance, and failing a drug test can result in the loss of this clearance. This can make it challenging to obtain new positions or promotions in the future.
  • Loss of Job: In some cases, failing a drug test can lead to immediate dismissal from service. This can result in a loss of income, benefits, and retirement benefits.

To give you a better idea of the severity of failing a military drug test, let’s take a look at the statistics from 2019. According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, there were 11,103 positive drug tests among active-duty service members. The majority of these positive tests were for marijuana, followed by cocaine and methamphetamine.

Drug Number of Positive Tests (2019)
Marijuana 6,129
Cocaine 1,196
Methamphetamine 1,010
Opiates (including heroin) 422
Amphetamines 1,093

It’s essential to remember that the military has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use. The consequences of failing a military drug test can have long-lasting effects on a person’s career and life. It’s important to stay vigilant and make wise decisions to avoid the possibility of a positive drug test.

The process of drug testing in the army

The army follows a strict and comprehensive process of drug testing to ensure the health and safety of their personnel as well as to maintain discipline and effectiveness in their operations. The process involves several stages and methods that are designed to detect any illicit drug use among army service members.

  • Pre-Screening: Before testing, service members are provided with information on the drug testing process, the consequences of positive results, and their rights during the process. Pre-screening also involves an initial questioning of the service member to identify any drug use or exposure to drugs in the recent past.
  • Collection: Collections of samples are either observed or unobserved depending on the circumstances as well as the requirements specified by the commanding officer. The service member is required to provide a urine sample during the collection process.
  • Testing: The sample collected is tested in a certified laboratory. The army uses many different types of tests to detect a wide variety of substances, but the primary test used is the immunoassay test. Any positive results are confirmed with a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry test.

The army has a long-standing reputation for its zero-tolerance policy on drugs. Service members that test positive are subject to disciplinary action according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They may be charged with a crime, demoted, or even discharged from the army. Treatment programs for drug abuse are also offered to service members with positive results.

The army drug testing program is comprehensive and designed to ensure that its service members are free from the influence of drugs. Below is a table of the drugs that the army tests for:

Drug Class Drugs
Cannabinoids Marijuana, THC
Cocaine metabolite Cocaine, Crack
Amphetamines Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA)
Opiates Heroin, Codeine, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl
Phencyclidine (PCP) PCP

Knowing the drugs that the army tests for can help service members to avoid exposed to these drugs to avoid disciplinary action and ensure everyone’s safety.

Common drugs screened for in military drug testing

Drug testing is an essential part of the military’s protocol. It helps maintain the safety and readiness of the soldiers and helps identify drug users or those addicted to drugs for necessary treatment. The military conducts random drug tests, and during these tests, specific drugs are screened for. The following are the most common drugs screened for in military drug testing:

  • Cannabis/Marijuana – Cannabis is one of the drugs that the military actively tests for. It is because its use can negatively affect a soldier’s functions such as balance, coordination, and reaction time.
  • Cocaine – Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that the military tests for. It can lead to impaired judgment, reduced reaction time, and violent behavior.
  • Amphetamines – Amphetamines refer to a group of drugs that can lead to increased energy, alertness, and concentration. Still, they can also lead to anxiety, paranoia, and aggression, making it necessary for the military to screen for them.
  • Designer drugs – Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs, can have unpredictable effects on a soldier’s behavior. They are synthetic substances meant to mimic the effects of other drugs, but they can be more potent than the drug they imitate.
  • Opiates – Opiates are drugs that act on the nervous system and can lead to intense feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and pain relief. However, they can also cause drowsiness, mental impairment, and even death in high doses.

Types of Military Drug Tests

The military currently uses two main types of drug tests, namely urine tests and hair tests. Urine tests are the most common and screen for a range of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, and PCP. Hair tests, on the other hand, can detect drug use over a more extended period than urine tests, typically up to 90 days after use.

Military Drug Testing Program-Frequency and Procedures

The military conducts unannounced drug testing at the unit level. Each unit is tested at least once every twelve months, and each member of the unit may be tested. Soldiers can also be selected for random drug testing at any time. In addition, soldiers may be tested for drugs certain times, such as before entering the military and after returning from a deployment or leave of absence.

Military Drug Testing Table

Drug Tested by Urine Tested by Hair
1 Cocaine Yes Yes
2 Marijuana Yes Yes
3 Amphetamines Yes Yes
4 Designer Drugs Yes Yes
5 Opiates Yes Yes

The military drug testing program plays a crucial role in maintaining discipline, safety, and readiness of the soldiers. Although privacy concerns have been raised, the tests help protect the soldiers’ health and ensure that they remain fit for duty and can carry out their responsibilities without any impairment.

Differences between civilian and military drug testing

Drug testing is a common practice in both the civilian and military sectors, but there are some significant differences between how they are conducted. Here are some examples:

  • Civilian drug testing is often conducted in the workplace or during the hiring process. Military drug testing is a routine requirement and is often conducted randomly.
  • Civilian drug testing may only test for a limited number of drugs, while military drug testing screens for a wide range of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids.
  • Military drug testing methods are more rigorous than civilian testing methods. For example, military drug tests can detect drug use up to 90 days prior, while civilian tests generally only detect drug use within the last few days.

However, despite these differences, both civilian and military drug testing programs share a common goal: to maintain safety and ensure a drug-free environment. Military drug testing plays an important role in maintaining discipline, combat readiness, and the well-being of military personnel.

Types of military drug testing

The US Army uses a combination of urinalysis and hair testing to detect drug use among its personnel. Here are the two primary types of military drug testing:

  • Random testing: Random drug testing is conducted throughout the year, and selected personnel must provide a urine sample within a specified time frame. This testing is usually unannounced and can be conducted at any time, including during off-duty hours.
  • Suspicion-based testing: If a commander has reason to believe that a soldier is using drugs, suspicion-based testing may be ordered. This can include urine testing, blood testing, and hair testing.

Army Drug Testing Limits

An important thing to know about military drug testing is that there are limits to what the US Army can test for and when they can test. Here are some examples:

The US Army only tests for four specific opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. They do not test for other opioids, such as heroin.

The Army also has strict rules around when drug testing can be conducted. For example, drug testing cannot be conducted as a punishment or disciplinary action, and personnel cannot be tested simply because they refuse to take a lie detector test.

Substance Detected Random Urinalysis Probable Cause Administrative Special Circumstance
Marijuana 15 ng/ml 15 ng/ml 15 ng/ml 15 ng/ml
Cocaine 150 ng/ml 150 ng/ml 150 ng/ml 150 ng/ml
Amphetamines (including ecstasy) 500 ng/ml 500 ng/ml 500 ng/ml 500 ng/ml
Opiates (including heroin and codeine) 10 ng/ml 10 ng/ml 10 ng/ml 10 ng/ml

It’s important to note that drug testing policies can change over time, so it’s important for military personnel to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations.

How drug use affects military readiness and mission success

Drug use in the military can have far-reaching consequences. Here are some of the ways drug use can impact military readiness and mission success:

  • Decreased physical fitness and overall health: Drug use can lead to a range of health problems, including weight gain, heart disease, and lung damage. These issues can affect a service member’s ability to complete their duties and their fitness for deployment.
  • Decreased mental acuity: Drugs can affect a service member’s ability to focus, react quickly, and make sound decisions under pressure. These skills are critical for success in combat and other high-stress situations.
  • Increased risk of injury and accidents: Service members who use drugs are more likely to become injured or cause accidents, which can have serious consequences for themselves and their fellow service members.

Drug use can also have a negative impact on the mission as a whole. Here’s how:

Table: Effects of drug use on military mission success

Effect Description
Decreased unit cohesion Service members who use drugs may be more likely to cause conflicts and disruptions within their unit, leading to decreased morale and cohesion.
Security risks Service members who use drugs may be more susceptible to blackmail or other forms of coercion, putting national security at risk.
Compromised operations A single service member who uses drugs can compromise the safety and success of an entire mission.

Overall, drug use in the military can have serious consequences for both individual service members and the success of the mission as a whole.

What Drug Test does the Army use – 7 FAQs?

Q1. What kind of drug test does the Army use?
The Army uses a urine drug test kit for drug detection. The kit screens for various illicit drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, and opioids.

Q2. How often does the Army conduct drug testing?
The Army conducts random drug testing quarterly, and all soldiers must undergo testing once a year. Commanders may also order drug testing on a case-by-case basis.

Q3. Is the Army drug test mandatory?
Yes, all soldiers in the Army are required to undergo drug testing. Refusal to take the test can result in disciplinary action, including discharge.

Q4. How soon after drug use can the Army test detect drugs?
Drug detection times depend on several factors, such as the type of drug, how much was used, and the individual’s metabolic rate. However, most drugs can be detected in urine within 48-72 hours after use.

Q5. Can the Army test detect legal prescription drugs?
The Army’s drug test kit does not screen for prescription drugs unless they are specifically added to the test panel. However, soldiers must provide proof of any prescription medications they are taking before drug testing.

Q6. What happens if a soldier tests positive for drugs?
If a soldier tests positive for drugs, the Army will initiate administrative action, which may include disciplinary action, rehabilitation, or discharge.

Q7. Can soldiers appeal a positive drug test result?
Yes, soldiers can appeal a positive drug test result. They may request a retest at their own expense or challenge the laboratory’s analytical methods. Soldiers must submit the appeal within five business days of receiving the test result.

Thanks for Reading

Drug testing is an essential part of maintaining a drug-free military. If you know someone who is considering joining the Army, share this article with them to ensure they understand the testing process. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back for more informative articles.