Marine Corps tests for prescription drug abuse

28 Jun 2012 | Lance Cpl. Nik S. Phongsisattanak

Marines who sustained injuries or suffered from anxiety may be prescribed medications to alleviate and treat their condition, however, these pharmaceuticals can prove to be highly addictive and dangerous if used inappropriately.

Commands are aware of the apparent risks and released Marine Administrative Message 154/12, which was signed March 22 and in effect since May 1 to enhance their ability to track and monitor the abuse of prescription drugs. In order to achieve this, the Marine Corps expanded their prescription drug urinalysis testing by screening for commonly abused drugs such as hydrocodone and benzodiazepines.

“It’s like any other narcotic and someone abusing these drugs can become highly addicted,” said Staff Sgt. Denell Rivers, the substance abuse control officer with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “Their body can get used to the drug and build a tolerance, so they may feel like an increased dosage is needed each time to obtain the same ‘high’ effect. Consuming these amounts can potentially lead to overdosing.”

Commands encourage those who may be addicted to these drugs to voluntarily seek medical treatment and rehabilitation. If a Marine has a problem with drugs or alcohol they shouldn’t keep it to themselves, said Rivers. Seek help. Marines can find aid from their SACO, chain-of-command or the substance abuse rehabilitation program.

“The MARADMIN came out in March,” said Rivers. “But the Marines were given until the first of May to come forward. Those who did were exempt from disciplinary action in order to (correct themselves). If they are having problems with drugs, we want them to get the proper help and guidance they need. As of now, if a Marine is caught abusing prescription drugs, there will be legal (repercussions).”

The MARADMIN clearly defines inappropriate use or abuse of prescription drugs as using them for unintended purposes, using them beyond their prescribed date, in excess of the prescribed dosing regimen, or when a service member uses another individual’s prescribed medications.

“You have to look out for your Marines,” said Rivers. “If they’re consuming their prescribed amount of pills fast, and they’re always going back for a medication refill, they may be abusing their medication. You just have to pay attention to the signs. The goal is to ensure the wellbeing of the Marines’ lives and careers.”

If a Marine loses or has his medication stolen they should immediately inform their chain of command, medical officer or SACO.

For more information on the MARADMIN, visit