Air Force Wages Weekend War on Drugs

Air Force Wages Weekend War on Drugs
Posted by FoM on January 27, 2001 at 15:58:38 PT
By Gregg K. Kakesako, Star-Bulletin
Source: Star-Bulletin
The popularity of such club drugs as ecstasy has prompted the Pacific Air Force to begin random weekend testing at its seven installations here and in Alaska and Asia."Because of the surging popularity of drugs like ecstasy, the problem we face is, the majority of club drugs cannot be detected on Monday morning," said Capt. Amy Sufak, Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman.
"It's a problem nationwide and not just in the military."That was the reason Col. David Young, PACAF's command surgeon general, recommended late last year that urinalysis program managers begin weekend drug testing.One unit conducted the first random weekend drug test at Hickam Air Force Base at the start of the year.Master Sgt. Gene Ladoucer, Hickam spokesman, said other options such as random dormitory sweeps or drug checks at the gates are being contemplated."Unit commanders are encouraged to perform weekend unit-drug urinalysis, which always has been an option," Ladoucer added.To cope with the popularity of these club drugs, the military last fall placed certain rave clubs here, in Anchorage and in Asia off limits.Two Waikiki clubs and three other Oahu establishments are on the military's taboo list.Last year, Honolulu police Maj. Susan Dowsett of the Narcotics/ Vice Division noted that "ecstasy is prevalent at rave clubs."Raves are all-night, underground dance parties known for their fast, thumping techno music, smoke, fog, pyrotechnics and pulsating strobe lights.Although ecstasy, or methylenedioxymethamphetamine, has been available for at least three decades, the emergence of "raves" and their popularity among young people has caused concern for law enforcement.Ecstasy was patented in 1914 by a German drug manufacturer but shelved.It was not until 1985 that its use was banned in the United States.Its chemical structure is similar to methamphetamine, or speed, and the hallucinogen mescaline.The drug can produce increases in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, enabling users to dance for extended periods. In some case this has led to dehydration, hypertension and heart or kidney failure.Last year, the Air Force reported that drug-related courts-martial in the Pacific increased to 26 from 12 in 1999.These drug cases involved drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and methamphetamines.Sufak said the weekend drug tests are conducted in the same way as random drug tests have been done during the week.Airmen are called and have two hours to report to the clinic to submit to the urinalysis screening.In 1999 the Pacific drug urinalysis testing program identified 41 cases of illegal drug use.Only one was reported at Hickam Air Force Base, Sufak said.Last year, 44 airmen tested positive. Four tested positive for ecstasy at Hickam, and one tested positive at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.Service members convicted of drug use face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.The Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs earlier this month initiated weekend drug tests in the wake of a scandal that left 14 cadets implicated in the use of marijuana, LSD and other illegal substances, such as ecstasy.Club Drugs:Here are some of the common so-called club drugs: Ecstasy: Amphetamine derivative that produces both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate and Rohypnol: Best known as date-rape drugs. LSD: Powerful hallucinogenic. Methamphetamine: Considered the "poor man's cocaine." Phencyclidine: Hallucinogenic drug commonly sprayed on cigarettes or marijuana. Ketamine: Produces physical effects similar to phencyclidine and the visual effects of LSD. Psilocybin mushrooms: Natural hallucinogenic that can be ingested alone or in combination with alcohol or other drugs.Note: Random weekend testing aims to fight the growing use of club drugs such as ecstasy by Pacific forces. Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)Author: Gregg K. Kakesako, Star-BulletinPublished: Friday, January 26, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Honolulu Star-BulletinAddress: P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802Fax: (808) 523-8509Contact: letters starbulletin.comWebsite: Articles:Air Force Probing Drug Use Force Academy To Increase Random Drug Tests Drug Testing Archives
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on January 28, 2001 at 04:46:28 PT:
No Civil Rights in the Military
There are no civil rights in the military, but whatever weekend repression is attempted there will appear in mainstream American life anytime.What this should be about is combat readiness. Which do you suppose is a greater threat to "proper functioning" 1-2 days hence, MDMA or an alchohol binge? Given the military tradition and propensity for alcohol, the scientific answer matters not a bit.
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