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02-06-09, 08:41 AM
Fewer Marines testing positive in urinalysis tests
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February 5, 2009 - 11:45 AM

Positive urinalysis tests at the Marine Corps Air Station are down 46 percent since last fiscal year and down 85 percent since fiscal year 2005.

The station's Drug Demand Reduction Center (DDRC) credits increased drug prevention tactics and an aggressive attack on station drug use for the drop from 46 positive tests out of about 15,000 total in fiscal 2005 to seven positives out of 10,000 in fiscal 2008.

"The leadership of the units and their (substance abuse control officer, or SACO) has resulted in the large decrease," said Virgil Tapispisan, DDRC coordinator.

Increased urinalysis tests have also made a direct impact on the results.

"The goal at the DDRC is to reduce drug use, not enforce the laws. However, we do drive the units SACOs to enforce the urinalysis procedures properly," said Tapispisan.

Making drugs less appealing is also a goal of the DDRC.

"The DDRC is deglamorizing the illegal drugs effectively," said Carolyn Bender, Substance Abuse Counseling Center (SACC) director.

Most of the positive urinalysis tests are related to an individual doing the drug after using alcohol, said Tapispisan.

The process for drug and alcohol referrals to SACC is the same.

First, an individual is screened by his unit's SACO. Then, they are interviewed by a SACC counselor and psychologist who determines the individual's need. A service member is then assigned to a five- or eight-day in-house course at the SACC building or is sent to Point Loma, Calif., for a monthlong rehabilitation program.

"In general, the treatment is very effective because very rarely do they pop positive a second time," said Tapispisan.

The issue with drugs is a very specific, small problem, said Bender. A year with no positives might not be realistic.

While drug use is down, alcohol abuse is still on the rise.

Although no stats are available, the severity and quantity of the alcohol-related incidents has increased since 2005, said Bender.

The amount of DUIs with more than .25 blood alcohol content and the amount of depression and addiction issues are more than they were four years ago.

Stress and boredom are two of the common factors of why Marines drink, said Bender, who surveyed Marines last year to help adjust SACC's attack on Marines' problem drinking.

In response to the rising alcohol issue, Bender recently hired two employees to assist in fighting the problem.

"My goal is to drop base DUIs by 50 percent this year."