Army drug losses soaring

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by JP47, Dec 14, 2007.

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  1. Army 'losing a battalion a year to drug abuse'

    Audrey Gillan
    Friday December 14, 2007
    The Guardian

    The equivalent of a battalion a year is lost to the army due to illegal drug use, a report published today will claim. It found there had been a fourfold increase in the number of soldiers testing positive for cocaine following compulsory drug testing.
    The numbers testing positive for illegal substances rose from 517 individual cases in 2003 to 795 in 2005 before falling to 769 in 2006, according to figures published by the Royal United Services Institute. The cost to the armed forces, says its journal, is higher than fatalities and serious casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Last year almost 800 troops were discharged after testing positive for drugs such as cocaine - the majority are privates or junior non-commissioned officers.
    In a separate paper, Christianne Tipping, head of the institute's defence leadership and management programme, concludes: "The MoD needs to be sure that its near zero tolerance approach still constitutes the best way of managing the problem of drug abuse in the armed forces."

    The increase in the urinary cocaine positive rate - up from 1.4 a 1,000 in 2003 to 5.7 a 1,000 in the first semester of 2007 - could just be the tip of the iceberg.

    "Interpretation of the ongoing hike in soldiers' cocaine positive rate is severely handicapped by the government's refusal (on grounds of cost) to disclose key information such as whether the tests are targeted and if the pattern of weekday and weekend testing has altered," said Sheila Bird, a senior scientist with the Medical Research Council.

    Drug misuse was not widespread, said a MoD spokesman. "Positive rates in the army over the last four years average around 0.77%, compared with more than 7% in civilian workplace drug testing."

    How should the MOD deal with zero tolerance the way forward?
  2. Drug abuse is soaring in the Armed Forces, so we 'de-criminalise' it so that we don't have to sack so many junkies.

    Absolute crap.

    Let's see. The murder rate is so high in UK that the jails can't hold so many people, so let's de-criminalise murder.

    OK, it's an extreme example, but you can see my point. Drug abuse in the Armed Forces is wrong, it is dangerous and bad for discipline. Who would trust a guy in your section who you knew had been smoking dope an hour before going on patrol in Afghanistan?

    IMV there is absolutly no place for 'Recreational' drugs in the Armed Forces. Zero Tolerance is the only way ahead. The question shouldn't be what to do with these people when they get caught, it should be why are they taking drugs, and what can we do to stop them before it happens.
  3. Totally agree legs, just playing devils advocate.
  4. We have been round and round this argument but what the hell here we go again.

    15 years ago the on message mantra was that being a queer in the Armed Forces is wrong, it is bad for discipline and can put people in danger.

    Along with -

    Would you trust a guy in your section who you knew had been drinking vodka an hour before going on patrol in Afganistan?

    The is absolutely no place for Recreational drinking in the armed forces?

    We will never resolve this problem while the use of drugs is surrounded by so much propaganda from both sides.
  5. They were going on about this 5 mins ago on the news.
  6. Steven I would argue that the effects of alcohol on the body are well documented and unless drinking home brew the content of the drink is well known, unlike most recreational drugs which could be cut with almost anything the dealer chooses to use to dilute the product. Of course you wouldnt trust the guy who was drinking an hour before a patrol but thats why things like two can rules are in placeon many Op tours and if someone was able to drink an hour before a patrol questions should be being asked about why that person was allow to drink at that time (of course Ive not been on a tour so I dont know how these things are decided).

    Decriminalising drugs wont solve the problems of drug taking but could make it more acceptable to society which in itself is a frightening prospect given how accepted drug taking is generally already.

    Myself I have no issues with the forces having a zero tolerance policy on recreational/illegal drug taking, as a civvy I dont want to work alongside regular drug users and in a military situation I would be even less happy knowing that the people Im relying on's reactions and judgements could be impaired by their still being high/coming down far worse to my mind that the problems of a hangover.
  7. This is just a rehash of a 'news' item from a couple of months ago, which was done somewhere on here at the time; with the same 'but alcohol is bad for you too' arguments.
  8. And any NCO worth his or her rank can spot somebody who has had too much to drink whereas it is much more difficult to spot some drugs. Oh, and buying and using drugs isn't exactly legal, is it.

    I suppose the increase in cocaine use is because the street price has actually dropped significantly. Dunno why that is though (or because somebody has told the troops about deficiencies in the test which the radio news seemed to be talking about.) I suppose I had better go and read the RUSI study ...
  9. msr

    msr LE

    I would imagine the increase in cocaine is because it is out of your system much faster than pot.

    Is no-one conducting exit interviews?

  10. Are people using it to get out?

    Is it a case of "lack of moral fibre?"

  11. The Glasgow Herald is carrying this story as well, complete with a quote that "Professor Bird's study showed that detected military use had gone from being 20 times lower than comparable civilian rates in 2003 to just six times lower last year".

    Given that we;ve got a far stricter detection regime than any civilian environment, I'd guess the true comparison is even further in the Army's favour.
  12. At a recent symposium held at an unspecified div HQ in Germany, work that one out, it was suggested in a small play put on byb the toms themselves that instead of binning people, they could volunteer for 3 months in MCTC and get 'clean' Whilst at first glance this seems a good idea, you then introduce the idea that IF you get caught once using a Class A drug, there is an 'out'. In my experince there is a lot of 'well I took it to get out of going to Iraq'. Its the modern equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

    For those of the ilk just mentioned I have no time. However I am working very close to the problem and I must admit that losing first class JNCOs who were just bloody stupid or took it to try it out is a problem. There could be some way of saving them. The powers that be have however decreed that Zero Tolerance is the answer, and unless there is some other way then we must stick with it. Cocaine being the drug of choice is just that: it is cheap and plentyful. Hardly any other drug shows up, 1 or 2 extacsy, but thats it.

    Happy to enter into discussion with others on this.
  13. This is the experience of some US state penitentiaries which introduced random CDTs. The theory was that cocaine metabolises far quicker than cannabis thereby the chance of it being in your system is lower based on irregular usage. It is irrelevant if you are a habitual user as you are likely to be using it more often that the time it takes to metabolise out of your system. Alternatively cocaine may now be the drug of choice amongst our soldiers.

    I think it is a good thing that the level of drug use in the Army is still significantly lower than in civilian life.

    Zero tolerance approach is essential in order to allow people to know where the line is: therefore it is their choice to cross that line. It is not as if the Army is arbitrarily changing the rules on a person by person basis.

    Army drug policy should reflect the law not social trends (we are the first to complain when people attempt to conduct social engineering in the Army). The arguments regarding alcohol abuse are sound, but are undermined by the law: soldiers who take drugs are opening themselves up to blackmail, are liable to come into contact with criminal elements and there is a higher degree of criminality in order to procure drugs than there is to procure alcohol.
  14. Is there really a comparison though SAC's? Outside of some hige-profile industries, CDT is not a widespread regime for the majority of employees in this country.

    I wonder if new KPI's will be introduced whereby Commanders will be entitled to bonuses for keeping a clean sheet for their unit is in the offering?