05 Sep Soldiers Report Higher-Than-Expected Synthetic Marijuana Use
Alcoholism occurs in the military just as it does across the rest of the country. But drunkenness is dealt with swiftly and surely among enlisted ranks. Drug use can also be a problem, but again the military routinely tests for illicit substances and the penalties for drug use are unyielding. All of which may explain why a drug that evades detection is so popular among people serving in military uniform who have become addicted to illicit drugs.
Soldiers May Use Synthetic Marijuana More than Civilians
Researchers from the University of Washington did some investigating with soldiers stationed at the Lewis-McChord joint installation and found that while military personnel do not believe that they smoke tobacco, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs more than any other Americans, they do think they may use a synthetic form of marijuana more often than civilians.
The synthetic form of marijuana called Spice is made from dried and chopped plant matter that has been sprayed with chemical compounds. Those chemicals are designed to imitate the effects of THC (the psychoactive ingredient found in natural marijuana) and provide users with a marijuana-like experience.
However, using Spice is dangerous for a couple of reasons. Manufacturers of the drug are able to avoid government-imposed bans by simply modifying their compounds. But these constant modifications create unique dangers for users. For one thing, a user cannot know what they are taking. If there are negative reactions and a visit to the hospital is needed, users cannot tell emergency health workers what they’ve ingested. And since Spice can vary from batch to batch the chances of an unpredictable response to the drug are great.
In the study, only 33 percent of the soldiers who participated reported drug use. However, 38 percent of those who did take drugs reported having used Spice. Those who took part in the study said that they considered Spice use higher among soldiers than among civilians. It was the only substance that soldiers felt was more common among military personnel than among the general public.
The Drug’s Elusiveness
Use of the drug did not seem to be connected to how often a soldier had deployed nor did it appear linked to race or ethnicity although confessed Spice users were most often lower wage, single soldiers. The military has reportedly developed a new test that can effectively screen for Spice. So far detection rates remain low.
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