Debunking myths about random drug testing
By John R. Armour, Drug Testing Program Administrator
/ Published November 03, 2010
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
"You have been randomly selected for drug testing."
My role as an administrator for the Air Force urinalysis program is to assist commanders in ensuring their troops are mission ready by deterring Air Force members from using illegal drugs and other illicit substances. The military has a "Zero Tolerance" approach to drug use.
However, my experience has shown me that many in the military have come to see drug testing as an inconvenience or not random at all.
On a daily basis I hear a wide range of comments on the topic. Below are a few examples:
- It's not random, I was selected yesterday. How can it be random if nobody else in my section was selected?
- It's not random, I always get tagged for drug testing after a long deployment or overseas assignment.
- It's not random, I hear that all the urine is placed in a vat and if one is positive, we all come back to test.
- It's not random, if your social security number ends with a particular number sequence you are coded for your entire tour.
- It's not random, I saw you at the food court yesterday and you selected me.
- It's not random, I must be under investigation.
As a former military member, I recall being directed to provide a urine specimen several times and found no problem with the program. The "order-to-go" paperwork was a direct order by my commander and I didn't question it.
Guess what everyone; there is no magical vat, no special codes, no mystery deployment testing and definitely no administrator secretly selecting you. All Department of Defense Drug Demand Reduction Programs are required to use the official Air Force Drug Testing Program software. The software uses an algorithmic equation for selecting personnel in the database pool. The software is non-biased and the selection process is totally random based on the software. Members can be selected repeatedly, since once you provide a specimen you are placed back in the testing pool.
Let's put to rest all the myths and fallacies about random drug testing. Drug testing is random and for matters that concern your welfare and career. Drug use is incompatible with military service or DOD civilian employment. Drug use is not going to be tolerated and there are going to be consequences. Drug users could be subject to dishonorable discharges, dismissals, prison time, fines and criminal records.
Service members in particular should recognize that today's world is a dangerous place. You may be called upon to defend the country. You can't do that to the best of your ability if you're high.
As a drug testing administrator I have seen several of our Airmen lose their careers for abusing drugs. It's not worth it. The next time you get the notification that you have been selected for drug testing, just sign the paperwork and I will see you within two hours.