MILLINGTON, Tenn -- The number of positive results for synthetic drug in urinalysis tests has decreased significantly since testing began in March 2012, according to data presented to Navy leaders by Navy Alcohol and Drug Prevention (NADAP) office. For the past year the NADAP office has focused on educating Sailors on the risks to their health, career, and family, of using synthetic drugs like spice and bath salts.
"We consider this a win for all Sailors," said Dorice Favorite, NADAP director, about the decreased in positive results. "It means they are listening to facts and making responsible choices for themselves and their shipmates."
"The reasons for the decline are multi-dimensional," said Favorite. "Sailors understand the Navy has zero tolerance for drug use, including the use of designer and synthetic chemical compounds. Our education efforts sent a clear message that synthetic drugs are not regulated; therefore, they may be up to 200 times more potent than marijuana and much more harmful." Educating Sailors on the danger of illegal drug use is a multi-organizational effort. "NADAP partnered with Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and other U.S. military law enforcement agencies to monitor for criminal activity, including possession, use, or distribution of illegal substances," the director said.
There is also encouraging news in the responsible use of alcohol efforts. "During the past year, driving under the influence and alcohol-related incidents (AI) have continued to drop. The number of these incidents is down by more than 20 percent since 2006," said Favorite. The NADAP office contributes to this improvement through a comprehensive communication strategy that includes complimentary prevention awareness campaigns that reach out to all audiences, she added.
In April 2013, the Navy launched "Keep What You've Earned" campaign to replace the outdated "Right Spirit" campaign. Keep What You've Earned encourages responsible alcohol use by celebrating the achievements in the Sailor's Navy careers and actively engages Sailors as advocates for responsible drinking. This campaign in concert with "The Domino Strategy", "Who Will Stand Your Watch" and "That Guy" speaks to Sailors about responsible drinking and accountability. In mid- 2013, the Navy implemented the use of handheld alcohol detection devices. More than 13,000 devices were shipped to commands, both afloat and ashore. These devices are intended as a tool that complements the unit's campaign against irresponsible alcohol use and promotes Sailor safety, education and training. The ADD also helps leadership identify Sailors who may require positive intervention before a career-ending incident. NADAP plans to publish a report of lessons learned and best practices submitted by commands in January 2014. NADAP has had a very busy year, developing programs on synthetic drug testing, alcohol detection device distribution and implementation, and prevention awareness campaigns for a prescription drug campaign that is currently under development, Favorite stated. "We feel that every effort we expend on the front end to prevent a Sailor from misusing or abusing a substance improves Sailor resilience and strengthens Navy readiness."