Military Drug Test FAQ

Who Is Tested?

The Department of Defence has conducted over 47 years of testing for drug abuse on its service members. This program was established to detect the abuse of drugs and halt its usage among the service members. However, these tests are not solely for active military members. All branches of the U.S army require incoming recruits to be tested for drugs use.

What Are the Methods of Testing?

There are five types of drug tests in the Military.

Random Testing

This is where a commander orders a random test on all or a particular unit. Members do not have the right to refuse a random test. However, the test has to be random. The commander cannot select a particular individual to take a random test it must be a group.

Medical Testing

This is testing that is accomplished in accordance in acquiescence with any medical requirements. Urinalysis tests conducted on military recruits falls under this category. As with random testing, Members do not have a right to refuse medical testing in the military.

Probable Cause

If the commander has probable cause that a member is under the influence of drugs, they can request for authorization from the installation commander. The installation commander has the authority to issue “military search warrants” after consultation with the JAG Corps.This is the legal branch of the military concerned with military justice and military law. Members cannot refuse to give a urine sample which has been authorized by a military search warrant.


If the commander does not have a probable cause. They could request the member to grant “consent for search.” If a member grants consent, the test may be done. If not, the test is not conducted. Unlike Medical testing and Probable cause, the member has a right to refuse to be tested.

Commander Directed

In the event a member refuses to grant consent and the commander does not have enough evidence to warrant a probable cause search warrant, the commander may order the member to give a urine sample anyway. The commander directed test results may be used as a reason for involuntary discharge but may not be used for service characterization. This means the member can be discharged but the kind of discharge he receives is not based upon the urinalysis result but on their military record. The discharge could be honourable, general, or other than honourable.

What Are the Drugs tested by The DOD?

The tests done by the Department of Defence are meant to identify the presence of various drugs. Each drug has its cut-off levels. This means that if drug cut – off levels are above the set limit, it results in further investigations for drug abuse. The following drugs tested with their cut off levels are listed below.

  • THC (Marijuana) – 15 nanograms per milliliter
  • Cocaine – 100 nanograms per milliliter
  • Morphine – 2000 nanograms per milliliter
  • Codeine – 2000 nanograms per milliliter
  • Heroine – 10 nanograms per milliliter
  • Oxycodone – 100 nanograms per milliliter
  • Oxymorphone – 100 nanograms per milliliter
  • Hydrocodone – 100 nanograms per milliliter
  • Methamphetamine – 100 nanograms per milliliter
  • MDA/MDMA (Ecstasy) – 100 nanograms per milliliter
  • Barbiturates – 200 nanograms per milliliter
  • PCP – 25 nanograms per milliliter
  • LSD – 0.2 nanograms per milliliter

What Do The Test Results Mean?

There are two possible outcomes once a test is done. It can be positive or negative.

Negative test result: This is when the results for all the tests conducted show negative results.

Positive test result: The positive test is when the results for all the tests conducted show positive results.

The DOD then maintains the records for positive tests for at least three years and negative tests for one year.

On What Grounds Can One Get A Retest?

A retest can be granted only if the member’s lawyer or commander requests for one. Gas chromatography tests the purity of a substance by separating the various components of the mixture. Mass spectroscopy is used identify unknown compounds within a sample, and to make clear the structure and chemical properties. A retest involves gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy (GC/MS).

What Are the Consequences of a testing positive?

Positive test results can result in being enrolled to rehab that the individual may get assisted or dismissal from the service. However, if a member voluntarily comes forth and confesses abuse of the drug, counselling and rehab maybe the option suggested to them. Disciplinary actions involve the following:

  • A written warning
  • Suspension from the service for a specified duration
  • Dismissal from the service


The aim of the DOD drug testing program is to prevent and control drug abuse. Secondly, the DOD drug testing program is meant to educate the members about health and enlighten them on the consequences of drug abuse.

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