A CRACKDOWN on drug use within the Australian Defence Force is slashing illicit use, official figures show.
The ADF has more than doubled its drug testing rates during the past four years, and while on average every week at least one of our sailors, airmen, or soldiers still tests positive to an illicit drug, detection rates have dropped from 1.5 per cent to .5 per cent.
Since 2009, just under 300 Defence personnel were found to have a variety of drugs in their system including cannabis, cocaine, opiates amphetamines, benzodiazepines and steroids.
The ADF has been under siege since a series of damming reports claiming sexual assaults have been rife within its ranks for decades.
While just 20 per cent of the overall force of about 80,000 have been tested, an ADF spokesman said the results compared “favourably with the wider Australian community”.
A total of 60,789 drug tests were conducted on ADF members in Australia and overseas from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012.
Hundreds of those tests were in response to the suspected overdose of Daniel Landt-Isley in 2010.
The Townsville war hero – who once helped save a mate’s life – was found unconscious in his room.
Results of a Chief of Defence Force inquiry into the overdose have not been made public.
A total of 289 positive tests were recorded during the period from 01 July 2009 to June 30, 2012.
The Defence Force maintains a zero-tolerance policy to drug use.
A spokesman said the ADF has initiated a drug program which allows testing to be conducted on any of its members, anywhere at anytime.
“Prohibited Substance use or involvement by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel is not tolerated due to its incompatibility with an effective and efficient Defence Force and its capacity to undermine safety, discipline, morale, security and reputation,” he said.
Testing may be either random or targeted and was initially based on a minimum of 10 per cent of ADF members annually.
In 2009 Defence decided to crackdown on illicit drug use by ensuring a minimum of 25 per cent of ADF members and 100 per cent of initial trainees annually.
“The number of ADF members who have returned a positive test result compares favourably with the wider Australian community,” the spokesman said.
“In the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, it was reported that 14.70 per cent of the Australian population had used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months.”
“While the decrease in positive test results is pleasing, Defence will continue with its strategy for managing prohibited substance use including deterrence and education programs, administrative and disciplinary action.”