Misuse of prescription drugs could cost Airmen career

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Suellen Overton
  • 132 FW/JAG
Sitting in his room with a headache, an Airman contemplates whether or not to take pain medication that was prescribed to him for a tooth extraction several months ago. He decides it's pain medication, and he's suffering from pain, so there can be no harm. The next day, the Airman tests positive in a random drug test. His career now hangs in the balance. To use medication for anything other than its intended purpose or other than prescribed is considered to be misuse and illegal. Members will be discharged for such illegal use.

"Keeping the pain medication in your possession past its intended use will set up the potential for breaking that rule for which the medication was intended. (Saying) 'I didn't know the rules; I didn't know that,' is not an excuse for misuse. You knew it was given to you for your tooth extraction, muscle tear or surgery. The fact that you're saving it instead of getting rid of it is putting you in the position to be at risk."

Airmen can also find themselves in another dilemma if they share medication. This too is a federal offense. It is important to ensure that any prescriptions you are taking are noted in your base medical records. "If it's not in your medical records, it can create some problems for you.

" U.S. Code Title 21 Section 812 lists the types of controlled substances considered illegal. This list, as well as other information on illegal drug use, can be found on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's website at www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/csa/812.htm.

Being a good Airman will not prevent your discharge in the event of illegal drug use. "The next thing you know, you're standing in front of legal, having to explain why you used the drug. Don't put yourself and your command at risk."

(Summary of Air Force Times Article provided by Lt. Col. Overton)