Drug Demand Reduction...alive and well

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Shaw
  • Medical Operations Squadron
Many programs across the Department of Defense have been drastically curtailed or completely eliminated. Fortunately, the wing commander's Drug Demand Reduction program is not one of those programs. In fact, the DDR program here at Holloman is alive and well, and because of this, we can all expect to see more frequent testing in the future.

Although a firm date has not yet been set for release, a new computer program is under development which will ensure every active duty and civilian member will be tested a minimum of once each year in addition to the random testing already being conducted. Yes, in spite of what you may think, testing truly is random by number. The operator clicks a testing button each day and the computer generates a list of names corresponding to those numbers chosen for that day.

Why does this matter to you? Recently there has been an increase in the number of positive drug tests at Holloman. Drug use within the Air Force is prejudicial to good order and discipline and will NOT be tolerated. In this day and age of force reductions, there is no room in our Air Force for Airmen who chose not to follow the rules regarding illegal drug use, discrimination, harassment or assault of any kind. By signing our name on the dotted line, raising our right hand and wearing this uniform, we are automatically held to a higher standard.

The public not only expects this from us, but we ourselves expect adherence to our core values. Obviously, there are only a small percentage of our Airmen who chose to deviate from the standards. As we witness every day, our Airmen are doing great things here on base and around the world.

Sometimes, deviations occur because of one's lack of information. An obligation of a good wingman is to communicate effectively. Because prescription medications will show up during random drug testing, and prescription pain medications are one of the most abused drugs in the military, I'd like to take this opportunity to help communicate and clarify what constitutes illegal use of prescription medications with some "Dos" and "Don'ts":

1) If a medication is not prescribed for you, do not take it (this applies to all medications, not just narcotics).

2) Do not borrow or lend your medication to someone else--what works for you could be dangerous to someone else.

3) Do not take your own medication that was previously prescribed for you for one ailment and months later use it for a different problem. When a pain medication such as Percocet, Oxycodone, Tylenol #3 (with codeine), Vicodin, etc...are prescribed as needed that means for that particular ailment...not as needed for anything else. If, for example, you were prescribed pain medication or muscle relaxants for back pain and the issue was resolved, but six months later your back pain returned, if you start taking your pain medication and muscle relaxants again, and you were drug tested....you would be positive for illegal prescription drug use. Administrative actions may follow.

4) If you have left over prescription medication that was prescribed for a particular ailment and you need to use it again, DO contact your Primary Care Manager for advice and documentation in your medical records as to whether you should resume taking those medications or not.

5) When in doubt, DO contact your PCM team for advice. If you haven't signed up for MiCare yet, please DO! Stop by any front desk at the clinic and sign up for MiCare.

6) When your PCM prescribes that you to finish all the medication such as antibiotics, it is important that you do so. Any leftover medications should be disposed of in an appropriate manner.

Twice a year the Drug Enforcement Administration in conjunction with the 49th Wing Medical Group sponsors a medication take-back program known as Holloman Drug Take-back Day. The next event will occur sometime in spring 2014. What can you do to properly dispose of outdated, unused medication in the meantime?

1) Do not flush or pour medications down the drain.

2) Remove any personally identifiable information from the medication containers.

3) Place unused medications in a zip-lock bag. Go a step further by first crushing the medications.

4) Fill the zip-lock bag with wet coffee grounds or wet kitty litter.

5) Knead the bag with your hands to ensure the contents are thoroughly mixed.

6) Ensure the bag remains sealed and dispose in the trash on collection day.

7) When in doubt about the use or disposal of medications, contact your PCM or pharmacist.

By making the medication unusable and properly disposing of unused medication, you help keep the environment safe for humans and animals.