Army Marketing Campaign to Inoculate Force Against Prescription Drug Abuse

According to a press release issued October 7th by the U.S. Army News Service, “the number of Soldiers abusing prescription drugs is low — very low”. And the Army just signed a contract to develop a marketing campaign to help keep that number low.

In September, the Army signed a contract to develop a marketing campaign to educate Soldiers, leadership and family members about the addictive nature of prescription drugs such as oxycodone. 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 of the 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 that today in the Army, there isn’t much indication that prescription drugs such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, codeine, morphine, oxycodone or oxymorphone are being abused in great numbers. Data from the Army shows that in fiscal year 2011, for instance, 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 is 0.05 percent, oxycodone is at 0.08 percent, and oxymorphone is at 0.15 percent.

Even with the low number, McFarling said, if abuse of a prescription drug like oxycodone does become a problem, it’s one 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.”

In addition to the anti-prescription drug abuse campaign the Army is gearing up for now, the service already has other efforts in place to prevent an epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drugs are being tracked across the Department of Defense now, to ensure Soldiers aren’t inadvertently prescribed multiple doses of the same addictive drug, or that Soldiers don’t seek out multiple prescriptions. Also, there are now limits on the amount of time a Soldier is allowed to use a prescription, even if there are pills left over in the bottle.

Also coming in the future, a widening of the scope of random drug tests. Today, when a Soldier goes in for a random drug test there’s a 100 percent chance he’ll be tested for marijuana. There’s only a 20 percent chance of him being tested for oxycodone, however.

By the middle of fiscal year 2013, oxycodone will become part of the standard drug test. Other drugs like those in the hydrocodone family or benzodiazepines tranquilizers will also eventually become part of the standard drug testing battery.

See related article – Intensive outpatient treatment program helps Soldiers with behavioral health, addiction available at:

Source: Army News Service – October 7, 2011


  1. says

    This is so false. My husband is a civilian investigator with the Army and one of his duties is to submit the papers whenever a positive UA comes back for soldiers and other Army employees (civilian or enlisted) who have had a random UA. There are so many out there who are abusing prescription medications it is unreal. Just like everything else, the Army likes to stick it’s head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t have a problem when the problem is inches away from biting them in the behind!

    The bulk of them are soldiers coming back from depoloyment in Afghanistan and Iraq who were given pain meds for an injury they had gotten and now find they are addicted to the pain meds because they help them “deal” with the PTSD and depression they return from deployment with.

    Of course while the military says they have traditional drug treatment programs, they still insist that there is no place for opiate replacement therapy programs and have the wrong info and the old biased opinions of ORT that have always been around.

    My husband had to sit in on a training one day with the Army’s “methadone and suboxone expert” and the guy had NO CLUE! My husband knew more about methadone and suboxone treatment, methadone and suboxone guidelines and rules and more about how ORT REALLY works then the Army’s so called expert! It was sickening to sit there and listen to this expert spouting off this inaccurate info.

    As I said before, once again, the military will stick their head in the sand and pretend there is no problem when the problem is closing in on them faster than ever. They won’t be able to keep ignoring the situation but by the time they are forced to admit there is a problem and find a way to deal with it, so many will have suffered needlessly because of it and the public will still be misinformed about what is really going on.

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