By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Navy continued to emphasize the policy of zero tolerance for substance abuse by separating 1,515 Sailors in fiscal year 2011 for synthetic chemical compounds, commonly called Spice, and other drug usage according to an official Feb. 21.
"Currently, we are discharging a number of Sailors for use of synthetic chemical compounds also known as Spice, sighting failure to obey a direct order," said Lanorfeia Holder, deputy director of Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP). "Those that are tested by our Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) are discharged under an Article 92 misconduct or an Article 112A which is drug abuse."
A ban was placed on five synthetic cannabis compounds commonly found in the designer drug Spice, but also sold under different names, just one year ago March 1. AFMES has the ability to test for those five compounds via Navy Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) at the request of unit commanders if probable cause is determined.
Spice is a synthetic chemical compound that is sold as herbal incense and mimics the effects of the drug marijuana. Some of the compounds were initially developed as research to help individuals with certain brain conditions, but the research did not reach its fruition, according to Holder.
Some of the short-term effects include auditory and visual hallucinations, painless head pressure, panic attacks, time distortion and delirium. Long-term effects from the designer drug can include permanent physical impairment, mental illness or death.
"We have Sailors who are having mental conditions that they will never recover from," said Holder. "Using synthetic chemical compounds is like playing Russian roulette; you never know what is in the package. As detection catches up with manufacturers, makers alter the ingredients in an attempt to avoid detection."
OPNAVINST 5350.4D defines the scope of drug abuse as the wrongful use of controlled substances to include designer drugs, illicit-use anabolic steroids, prescription or over-the-counter medication.
The unlawful possession or use by Department of the Navy personnel of controlled substance analogues (designer drugs), natural substances, chemicals wrongfully used as inhalants, propellants, prescribed or over-the-counter medication or pharmaceutical compound with the intent to induce intoxication, excitement or stupefaction of the central nervous system is prohibited via SECNAVINST 5300.28D. Violators are subject to punitive action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92.
"If a Sailor is having issues with drug abuse or synthetic chemical compound use specifically, we recommend that they reach out to Military-One Source for confidential assessment and counseling at no cost to the Sailor," said Holder. "We also recommend members seeking substance use counseling talk with their doctor, chain-of-command or self-refer to a substance abuse rehabilitation program."
For more information about synthetic chemical compounds like Spice or other designer drugs visit the NADAP page on the Navy Personnel Command website at http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/nadap/education_training/pages/spice.aspx.
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