Army inoculates force against prescription drug abuse

| October 20, 2011 | 0 Comments
The number of Soldiers abusing prescription drugs is low, and the Army just signed a contract to develop a marketing campaign intended to keep that number low. (Courtesy Photo)

The number of Soldiers abusing prescription drugs is low, and the Army just signed a contract to develop a marketing campaign intended to keep that number low. (Courtesy Photo)

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — The number of Soldiers abusing prescription drugs is very low, and the Army is working to help keep that number low.

The Army has a campaign to educate Soldiers, leadership and family members about the addictive nature of prescription drugs.

The measure is preventative in nature, and the first wave of campaign material should appear in January 2013.

“We see an ever-increasing threat, from a national level, of the potential for abuse of prescription drugs,” said Dr. Les McFarling, director, Army Substance Abuse Program. “We’ve seen the abuse of pain killers, oxycodone for example, and that’s something that’s rising very fast in the national scene.”

McFarling said some consider drugs to be a miracle due to their speed and effectiveness in relieving pain. At the same time, he said, there’s the potential that once a Soldier starts taking such a drug, he or she might not stop.

“It doesn’t take much,” McFarling said. “These are very, very dangerous drugs, in terms of their addictive quality.”

McFarling said there isn’t much indication that prescription drugs such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, codeine, morphine, oxycodone or oxymorphone are being abused in great numbers.

Army data shows that in fiscal year 2011, among the 507,502 drug tests conducted for amphetamines, about 0.13 percent of Soldiers were subsequently confirmed to have been using the drug illicitly. For methamphetamines, about 0.07 percent were shown to be using illicitly. For codeine, that number was 0.05 percent, oxycodone was at 0.08 percent and oxymorphone was at 0.15 percent.

Even with the low numbers, McFarling said, prescription drug abuse is a problem that’s “very, very, very hard to correct. This is one of the most addictive drug families you can have. It’s much easier for us to prevent Soldiers from becoming addicted than it is to help them get rid of their addiction.”

The Army campaign is aimed at making Soldiers aware of the risks and addictive nature of many prescription drugs. The format of the campaign might be similar to what the Department of Defense is doing with its “That Guy” campaign to educate service members about alcohol abuse.

In addition to the anti-prescription drug abuse campaign, the service already has other efforts in place to prevent an epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Prescription drugs are being tracked across the DOD to ensure Soldiers aren’t inadvertently prescribed multiple doses of the same addictive drug or that Soldiers don’t seek out multiple prescriptions.

Also, now limits are in place on the amount of time a Soldier is allowed to use a prescription, even if pills are left over in the bottle.

By the middle of fiscal year 2013, oxycodone will become part of the standard drug test.

National Take Back Initiative 

Turn in unused or expired medication for safe, anonymous disposal on National Take Back Initiative Day, Oct. 29:

•Schofield Barracks’ Army and Air Force Exchange Service Post Exchange, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

•Marine Corps Exchange,

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

•Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

•Federal Building, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

•Kahala Mall, 4211 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, 8:00 a.m.-noon.

•Town Center of Mililani Bandstand, 95-1249 Meheula Pkwy.,

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

•Windward Mall center court, 46-056 Kamehameha Hwy.,

Kaneohe, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

 

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Category: Army News Service, Health, News

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