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How Often Does the Military Drug Test Happen? [2022 Updated Version]

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

how often does the military drug test

You will have to pass many different tests to be enlisted in the military. One of those tests is the military drug test. But this test actually happens more than once throughout anyone’s time of service. So, how often does the military drug test happen, and when does it happen, exactly? Get the answers to these questions in our text below. We will also cover:

  • What drugs does the Army test for?
  • How does the military test for drugs in your body?
  • What is the Army drug testing regulation?
  • What happens when you fail the military drug test?
  • What should you do when you fail the military drug test?

The military drug test is a hot topic on Reddit and other online communication platforms. There are plenty of questions that arise from it. So here, for your reference, we have compiled all of the most common ones:

What Drugs Does the Army Test for

Military service members are tested for the following drugs:

  • marijuana
  • cocaine
  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamine and designer amphetamines): such as molly or ecstasy (MDMA) and adam (MDA)
  • heroin
  • codeine
  • morphine
  • hydrocodone
  • oxycodone
  • hydromorphone
  • oxymorphone
  • synthetic cannabinoids
  • benzodiazepine sedatives

Does the Military Drug Test Before You Join

military-drug-testing

Did you know that in 2017, out of ~279,400 applicants, ~2,400 tested positive for drugs? This is why the military conducts a drug test before admitting applicants. The military drug test filters the only best (and drug-free) into the U.S Armed Forces.

If you fail the test as an entry applicant, you have a chance to retake it after 90 days at the MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station). However, if you fail it the second time, you will permanently be disqualified; you will no longer be able to serve in any of the military branches.

How Does the Military Test for Drugs in Your Body

They will conduct an Army urine analysis. This basically entails that your urine sample will be taken, then immunoassay screened. Usually, the military drug test results time frame is 3 to 5 days. However, sometimes, results can also be sent back within 24 hours.

Here is the basic sequence:

  • You, the service member, urinates in a container to collect a urine sample
  • The sample is submitted to the test administrator: Yes, it’s awkward, but there is an observer to make sure you are not cheating
  • Your sample is arranged with the others as batches
  • You sign a chain of custody document along with everyone else involved
  • The batches of containers move to the lab for drug screening
  • Your sample will undergo an immunoassay screening
  • A second immunoassay screening happens if your first result was positive
  • If your second screening is also positive, the sample will undergo mass spectrometry

This video shows the process in more detail:

When Does the Army Drug Test You for the First Time

Along with all the other prerequisite tests, you take your first drug test at the MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station).

When Else Does the Army Drug Test You

You will also have to take a drug test before, during, and after basic combat training. Afterward, while serving, you must take at least one drug test every year. There are several ways you can be requested to take a drug test.

1. Random Testing

As implied in the name, this is when a commander randomly calls for all or some in his/her unit to take the test.

2. Probable Cause Testing

If the commander has probable cause(s) to suspect a member of using drugs, he/she can require that member to submit a urine sample for the drug test.

3. Medical Testing

You may have to take the drug test for medical reasons. But even if they are administered for medical testing, the result can be used against you in administrative and court-martial proceedings.

4. Consent Testing

A commander asks if you consent to a drug test.

5. By Order Testing

A commander orders you to turn in a urine sample for the drug test. However, the result cannot be used against you in administrative and court-martial proceedings unless there is a probable cause.

What Is the Army Drug Testing Regulation

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The drug test is specified under the 600-85 (2016) of the Army regulation, and it is a part of the ASAP (Army Substance Abuse Program).

You are always expected to comply when ordered to take a military drug test. However, whether the result can affect you in administrative proceedings and court-martial proceedings depends on the type of testing request it is. As mentioned earlier, a “by-order” testing cannot go against you if there is no probable cause(s).

Any failed drug test will be posted on the public portal for all commanders and managers in the forces to see (if you are an already-serving member).

What Happens When You Fail a Military Drug Test

The military applies a zero-tolerance policy towards a drug test. However, there is no standard consequence to failed military drug tests. It will depend on your service, rank, and the detected drug in your test. The worst thing that can happen is a court-martial charge.

Usually, you will:

  • Be suspended right away
  • Sent to a rehabilitation center
  • Then, sit through an NJP or MAST (a non-judicial punishment)
  • Finally, be discharged on dishonorable conditions: as a result, you will no longer be entitled to any military benefits, including health care, education, housing, and insurance benefits

What Should You Do When You Fail a Military Drug Test

Sometimes, military drug tests can have false positives. Common culprits for these are:

  • Unintended detection of components in vitamins, supplements, certain foods
  • Improperly stored or labeled samples and manufacturing errors
  • Wrong conduct during the testing procedure or testing parameters
  • Unintended detection of components in medicine, over-the-counter drugs

This means that you still have a chance to fight your failed military drug test. To do this, you will have to prove that the drug was not ingested consciously or that mistakes occurred in the drug collecting and/or testing procedure. For either case, you may want the help of a reliable attorney.

If you know for sure you have not consumed any drugs consciously, make sure you are as honest and transparent as possible about what you eat, drink, and take into your body. Only then can you prove the former case and defend yourself against a failed drug test.

Conclusion

That’s everything you need to know about the military drug test and how often does the military drug test happen! Hopefully, the information we have compiled is helpful to you. If it is, please share this with other readers. If there is more, you would like to know about, comment down below. We look forward to hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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