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Evaluation of the Department of Defense Drug Testing Program

NCJ Number
M P Lieb
Date Published
37 pages
This study examines the nature, costs, and results of the programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and by the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Army to test military and civilian personnel for the abuse of all drugs except alcohol.
The research aimed to determine whether the current DOD drug abuse testing program is a viable model for other public and private agencies to use in establishing their own programs. Current procedures and cost data and results from 1985-1986 formed the basis of the analysis. Most testing experts believe that DOD and, in particular, the Navy, have the largest and best drug screening program in the Nation. Drug use in DOD and in each of the military services has continuously declined since 1980, as measured by urinalysis samples, anonymous self-report survey questionnaires, and interviews. Most Navy personnel regard urinalysis testing as the most effective method of identifying drug abusers as well as the best deterrent to drug use. Nearly one-fourth of military personnel surveyed report that the urinalysis testing program has kept them from using drugs. More than 2.3 million specimens were tested in fiscal year 1985, at a cost of $47 million. This constituted 58 percent of the amount spent by DOD military departments on drug abuse programs that year. A major study indicates that urinalysis is worth its expense because it is a much more powerful identification tool than any other mechanism available. Findings indicate that DOD should establish a standardized system of costing drug programs to make more meaningful evaluations and comparisons possible and that cost studies be conducted to determine whether in-house or contracted testing is the most cost-effective. Tables and 21 references. (Author abstract modified)


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