The use of illegal drugs can not only be devastating to the health of the user but also to the Air Force mission. That’s why there is a program called drug demand reduction. Its goal is to stop the use and abuse of controlled and illegal substances through a comprehensive program of education, prevention and deterrence, and to provide scientifically accurate results that will stand up in court.
“The DDR program is imperative to the Air Force mission because to have a force that is mission ready means having a drug-free force,” said Jennifer Deans, 56th Medical Operations Squadron DDR program manager. “For example, a jet fixed improperly due to someone being under the influence of a drug while fixing it, can have dire consequences for the pilot who will be flying the jet.”
To prevent drug abuse, Airmen are tested randomly and daily.
“Every active-duty Airman on Luke Air Force Base is subject to random drug testing,” Deans said. “We use computer software that is designed to generate a random list of names daily. Once the software gives us the list of names, we notify the units and the member. Once notified, the member has two hours from the time of notification to come in for the drug test.”
The program also conducts random gate sweeps, Deans said. The gate sweeps are used to deter personnel from using drugs over the weekend. If a member fails to show within a given timeframe, their first sergeant will be called to find them and send them to drug testing followed by disciplinary actions.
Drug abuse in the Air Force is defined as the wrongful, illegal, or illicit use of a controlled substance, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or intoxicating substance other than alcohol. It can also be the possession, distribution or introduction onto a military installation of any controlled substance.
“Wrongful use of prescription medication means using drugs that weren’t prescribed to you or using them contrary to the directions of the manufacturer,” Deans said. “Other drugs that are illegal in the Air Force are marijuana, hemp seed products, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines, heroine, bath salts and spice, to name a few.”
If an Airman tests positive, the consequences can be devastating to the member’s career.
“If an active-duty member tests positive for illegal drugs he can be subject to an Article 15, resulting in forfeiture of pay and reduction in rank,” said Capt. Michael Saylor, 56th Fighter Wing chief of military justice. “Depending on the case, the offender could be subject to a court martial that can include confinement, punitive discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of pay.”
Members should think twice before saying yes to drugs, according to Deans.
“The use and abuse of drugs affects more than just you,” Deans said. “It can affect your family and the community as a whole. Take pride in being drug free.”