May 6, 2016

Dangers, consequences of prescription drug abuse

By Ronney Hester
Army Substance Abuse Program

Army regulation 600-85, paragraph 1-8 indicates the personal, organizational and professional consequences of substance abuse when it states: “Alcohol and drug abuse by Soldiers and civilian corps members can seriously damage their physical and behavioral health, jeopardize their safety and the safety of those around them, and can lead to criminal and administrative disciplinary actions. Alcohol and drug abuse is detrimental to a unit’s operational readiness and command climate and is inconsistent with Army Values and the Warrior Ethos. The Army strives to be free of all effects of alcohol and drug abuse.”

Drug abuse includes the misuse of medical prescriptions. Army drug testing will identify the presence of a drug in your system. Therefore, it is incumbent to ensure your prescription is current while taking medication or you can be charged with drug use.

Medical Command regulation 40-51 has been revised limiting the duration of authorized use of controlled substance prescriptions. Prescriptions for controlled substances (schedules II-V) will have an authorized use of six months from date of dispensing. Medical providers will prescribe only the minimum quantity of controlled substances necessary to treat an acute illness or injury. Quantities of controlled substances used to treat acute conditions will not exceed a 30-day supply. Providers will routinely assess the patient for medication effectiveness and adverse events. Providers using controlled substance medications to treat chronic conditions may prescribe a 30-day supply of medication with up to five refills. Soldiers will understand that controlled substance prescriptions will have an expiration date and that a positive urinalysis after the prescription expiration date will result in a “no legitimate use finding.” This can and will be detrimental to your career.

Prescription drug abuse has become the #1 drug problem among young Americans. Nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs-more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, and inhalants, combined. Narcotic pain-relief prescriptions for injured U.S. troops have jumped from 30,000 a month to 50,000 since the Iraq war began, raising concerns for the drugs’ potential abuse and addiction.

Illegal situations: Possession/use of medication without a prescription; giving prescription to another individual regardless of their apparent need. The illegal use of prescription drugs or any drug goes against Army Values and Warrior Pride

Most commonly abused prescription drugs: opioids, prescribed to treat pain; central nervous system (CNS) depressants, prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; stimulants, prescribed to treat sleep disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Warning signs of prescription drug abuse: constantly “losing” prescriptions, so more prescriptions must be written; seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor; taking higher doses despite warnings; stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions; excessive mood swings.

Methods of acquiring prescription drug abuse include: doctor-shopping; illicitly acquiring prescriptions; traditional drug-dealing; drugs via the Internet; theft from pharmacies; from friends or relatives.

Helpful tips: Always follow medication directions carefully; do not increase or decrease doses without talking with your doctor; do not stop taking medication on your own; do not crush or break pills unless directed by a physician; be clear about the drug’s effects on driving and other daily tasks; learn about the drug’s potential interactions with alcohol, other prescription medicines, and over-the-counter medicines.

If you require additional information about prescription drug abuse, or any other drug, visit the Army Substance Abuse Program in building 452 on the corner of 3rd and G Streets, call 380-4153 or see the ASAP website at www.acsap.army.mil.

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