As of May 1, 2012, the military has two new drugs in its testing repertoire. Henceforth, service members may be tested for hydrocodone and benzodiazepines, two of the most commonly abused prescription drugs on the market.
Servicemen and servicewomen are randomly tested for drugs at least once a year. A positive test result could mean serious legal complications, putting a service member anywhere in the chain of command in need of military drug offense lawyers.
Hydrocodone and Benzodiazepine Part of Expanded Testing Regiment
Hydrocodone is a component in a number of prescription painkillers, including the drug Vicodin. Common anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium contain benzodiazepine.
Hydrocodone and benzodiazepines join a range of legal and illegal drugs that the military tests for, from codeine and morphine to amphetamines and cocaine. According to the Department of Defense, the addition to the military's drug testing program is in response to changes in patterns of drug misuse. Indeed, prescription drug abuse has reportedly been on the rise within the military for at least a decade.
Discharge, Detainment May Await Service Members Caught Abusing Drugs
Soldiers with valid prescriptions for hydrocodone and benzodiazepines will not be punished if they test positive for the drugs. However, for those whose prescriptions have lapsed or who have never had a valid reason to use the drugs, the stiff penalties for drug use within the military ranks could kick in.
Punishments for drug use in the military can vary wildly depending on the severity of the offense and other factors. Service members caught using drugs may be discharged — often with loss of benefits. For some, drug offenses even carry real time behind bars.
Legal Defense Critical For Soldiers Accused Of Drug Offense
Because the consequences of drug use can be so devastating, it is imperative for service members accused of misconduct to stage a strong legal defense. And, with the breadth of the drug testing program expanding, more men and women in the armed services will potentially face drug misuse allegations.
Even a positive drug test result is not necessarily the end of the road; the military is increasingly moving toward a treatment model, where addicted service members may be eligible for lenient sentences and the help they need. If you're in the military and are concerned about a drug offense, contact a qualified lawyer today to learn more about protecting your future.