The Navy takes pride in being recognized as being powerful and united in the defense of its country. Service members are encouraged to uphold rigorous standards of personal and professional ethics, whether on duty or off. For these reasons, drug abuse is simply not tolerated in the Navy. Failing a drug test can have serious consequences for your military career and veteran's benefits.
The Navy automatically administers both drug and alcohol tests to recruits when they arrive at the Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS, says Navy CyberSpace. These tests look for traces of drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, salvia, heroin and mushrooms. You can also fail a drug test if your results are positive for controlled drugs like oxycodone and codeine, the active ingredients in prescription pain relievers. Failing prescription drug tests will illicit an investigation; if you have a prescription and are taking it as directed, though, you won't face punitive action. Abusing inhalants like gas, glue or computer cleaner, or over-the-counter medications such as Robitussin and Coricidin HBP won't be tolerated.
If you fail initial drug tests during MEPS, you won't be allowed into the Navy, says Navy CyberSpace. If you were in the Delayed Entry Program, your eligibility will be withdrawn as soon as your drug test results are annotated on your record. Additionally, if you failed a drug test for any branch of the military prior to attempting to enlist in the Navy, you will be barred. This isn't a temporary punishment. You will never be allowed to join. This doesn't apply to recruits who are taking a prescribed medication in the manner their doctors described.
Drug screenings are randomized throughout the year at your commander's discretion. The Department of the Navy's booklet "Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Control" states that randomization is important to prevent service members from feeling their drug abuse will go undetected. Failing one while already in the service is quite often an automatic trigger for separation procedures. In the Navy, one way to avoid this is to have a chief medical officer or a grand master chief investigate the case and sign a waiver, says the Navy Times, though this is by no means usually granted.
There are three administrative discharges: honorable, general and other-than-honorable (OTH), says The Military Wallet. Being found guilty of taking drugs earns you the OTH discharge, the least desirable of the three, as illegal drug use is a felony charge. Not only is this a stain on your military career -- one that looks bad to prospective employers -- but, in most cases, bars you from receiving your Veteran's benefits.
- America's Navy: Navy Announces New Drug Testing Parameters After Year of Record Low Positives
- Navy CyberSpace: Drugs and the Navy do Not Mix
- Department of the Navy: Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program
- Navy Times: Ask the Lawyer: Positive Drug Test May Not Lead to Separation
- America's Navy: Illegal Drug Use Carries Stiff Consequence
- The Military Wallet: Types of Discharges -- Understanding Discharge Ratings
Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."