Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness

Military Drug Program Historical Timeline

1960’s Vietnam era. Significant Service member use of marijuana and heroin common.
June 11, 1971 - President Nixon directed military drug urinalysis program to identify
service members returning from Vietnam for rehabilitation.

1972 - Department of Defense amnesty program results in over 16,000 military members
admitting a drug abuse problem.

September 1973 - Final Report. The Vietnam drug user returns, author L Robins. Special
Action Office Monograph, US Gov Print Office 1974. Approximately 42% of U.S.
military personnel in Vietnam in 1971 had used opioids at least once, and half of these
individuals were reported to be physically dependent at some time.

April 4, 1974 - DoD Instruction 1010.1 issued. Established random testing. Primarily a
clinical program to identify users for treatment. The program did not deter drug use.
1980 - DoD Survey of Health Related Behavior Among Military Personnel showed that
27.6% of service members had used an illegal drug in the past 30 days. Greater than 38%
in some units.

May 26, 1981 - Aircraft accident aboard the USS Nimitz. 14 killed, 48 injured, 7 plans
destroyed, 11 planes damaged, estimated cost of $150M. Six killed had marijuana
metabolite in their bodies. Drugs were a contributing factor in the accident.

December 28, 1981 - A memorandum # 62884 issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Carlucci in December 1981 authorized the initiation of punitive actions including courts martial or administrative separation for drug use.  . Drug testing included marijuana, cocaine, heroin (opiates), amphetamines, barbiturates, methaqualone and PCP.

December 1983 - A commission headed by MG David Einsel reviewed Army/Air Force
drug testing procedures and found the system was broken. Procedures did not meet
forensic standards. Over 10,000 service members discharged for use of illegal drugs
were offered reparations including the option to return to active duty. Several drug
laboratory commanders were relieved, one removed from the promotional list and one
brigadier general officer forced to retire.

1984 - Department of Defense issued DoD Directive 1010.1 that formally defined forensic
drug testing requirements and responsibilities for testing. Services established panels of
active duty scientists to develop and implement forensically sound drug testing
procedures.

1984 - Methaqualone dropped from drug testing menu. This was based on information
from the DoD Biochemical Testing Advisory Committee (BTAC), primary advisory
group to ASD(HA) on drug policy, who determined that incidence of use was low.

April 25, 1985 - THC confirmation cutoff changed to 20 ng/mL from 75 ng/mL of delta-
9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid. Screening cutoff remained at 100 ng/mL of
cannabinoids. Cocaine cutoff set at 300 ng/mL of benzoylecgonine for both screening
and confirmation.

June 1985 - DoD Forensic Drug Testing Laboratories were required to confirm the
presence of drugs in urine with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (the current gold
standard for drug identification). Previously gas chromatography was acceptable for
confirmation.

1985 - DoD Survey of Health Related Behavior Among Military Personnel showed that
8.9% of service members had used an illegal drug in the past 30 days.

April 12, 1986 - THC cutoff changed to 15 ng/mL from 20 ng/mL of delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid. Cocaine confirmation cutoff changed to 150
ng/mL from 300 ng/mL of benzoylecgonine.

September 15, 1986 - President Reagan issued Executive Order 12564 mandating drug
testing for all federal civilians.

October 23, 1987 - DoD established testing for LSD and cutoff concentrations to be used
by drug laboratories for reporting LSD positive results. For LSD Initial Test Level was
0.5 ng/mL and Confirmatory Test Level was 0.4 ng/mL.

January 1988 - MEPS testing for THC and Cocaine started.

1988 - DoD Survey of Health Related Behavior Among Military Personnel showed that
4.8 % of service members had used an illegal drug in the past 30 days.

1990 - DoD IG report recommendations: 1) regionalize the drug testing laboratories, 2)
implement tri-service testing, and 3) more DoD oversight and control.

1991 - Responsibility for drug testing shifted from Health Affairs to the Coordinator for
Drug Enforcement Policy and Support (CDEPS), and ASD level position.

January 1, 1992 - Following recommendations of the BTAC THC screening cutoff
changed to 50 ng/mL from 100 ng/mL of cannabinoids. Confirmation cutoff remained at
15 ng/mL of the specific acid metabolite. Cocaine screening cutoff changed to 150
ng/mL from 300 ng/mL of benzoylecgonine. Cocaine confirmation cutoff changed to
100 ng/mL from 150 ng/mL of benzoylecgonine.

1992 - DoD Survey of Health Related Behavior Among Military Personnel showed that
3.4% of service members had used an illegal drug in the past 30 days. Survey also
reported that 51.9% of drug users said the drug testing program reduced the likelihood of
their using drugs when they had an opportunity.

1993 - BTAC, primary advisory group for the CDEPS, recommended monitoring for use
of Ecstasy, and emerging drug in Europe. Selected DoD laboratories began testing for Ecstasy.

August 02, 1994 - Based upon a commercial laboratory inquiry as to the cost effectiveness of the DoD drug laboratory operations, a review was conducted by Mr Kevin Grimes (Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Projects).  In his report to Mr. John Deutch (Deputy Secretary of Defense), Mr Grimes indicated, “While I do not believe that a civilian contractor could meet the quality requirements at a lower cost, I would not contract out this service even if I could obtain it free of charge.   The best strategy is to keep this process under control of the services, but to increase efficiency through consolidation and regionalization.” 

September 01, 1994 - In response, Mr John Deutch affirmed Mr. Grimes findings and further stated, “A review of information regarding drug testing laboratories provided by your office and the services has convinced me that the best strategy is to continue drug testing in laboratories under control of the services.  Given the effectiveness of the current program and the level of confidence it enjoys among service members, I do not believe that any contracted bid would be sufficiently low to overcome the benefits of keeping this program ‘in-house’.”

1995 - DoD Survey of Health Related Behavior Among Military Personnel showed that
3.0% of service members had used an illegal drug in the past 30 days.

1992-96 - Following CDEPS recommendations Army closed on drug laboratory and Navy
closed two laboratories. Urine testing was consolidated into the remaining laboratories.

1996 - Defense Reform Initiative directed DoD to determine if all drug testing within DoD
could be transferred to commercial sources to reduce costs. OMB A76 study of National
Guard/Coast Guard testing and Military Entrance Processing testing (pre-accession
testing), which were accomplished by commercial laboratories, demonstrated the
opposite. That is, military laboratories were less expensive and more efficient. All active
duty, National Guard, reserve and pre-accession testing was brought into active duty
laboratories.

April 23, 1997 - CDEPS mandated drug testing for MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA and MDEA.
1997 - DoD in collaboration with European toxicologists pushed manufacturers to
develop a better screening test for Ecstasy.

1997-1998 - Defense Reform Initiative directed DoD to determine if all drug testing within DoD
could be transferred to commercial sources to reduce costs.  An OMB A76 study was conducted which included in its review the return of Army National Guard (ANG)/ Coast Guard (CG) testing and Military Entrance Processing (MEPS) testing back to the military drug testing laboratories in the review process.  ANG, CG, and MEPS testing had been conducted at commercial laboratories since 1987, but prior to 1987 had been conducted in the military drug testing Laboratories. 

1998 - DoD Survey of Health Related Behavior Among Military Personnel showed that
2.7% of service members had used an illegal drug in the past 30 days.
April 24, 1998 - A source decision memorandum dated April 24, 1998 awarded the return of ANG, CG, MEPS as part of the streamlined A-76 review of military drug testing to the military drug laboratories. The A-76 review memorandum indicated that the return of ANG, CG, and MEPS along with continuation of military drug testing in the military drug laboratories was cost effective and of better value than the transfer of active duty military drug testing to the commercial sector.

August 27, 1998 - The commercial laboratories protested the A-76 proposal to incorporate the return of ANG, CG, and MEPS in the competitive review process.  The commercial laboratories challenged the A-76 results in appeal to the U.S. Comptroller General for an A-76 Decision Review. 

December 17, 1998 - The U.S. Comptroller General denied the protests filed by the commercial laboratories and sustained the A-76 decision memorandum of April 24, 1998 awarding ANG, CG, MEPS and military member drug testing to the Military Drug Testing Laboratories.

January 1999 -  A suit was filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia by a commercial laboratory on the contesting the process of the A-76 and requested that the DoD suspend any action to transfer testing conducted at the commercial laboratory to the DoD laboratory system.  

April 30, 1999 - Judge Sullivan in the District Court for the District of Columbia issued a summary judgment that dismissed the commercial laboratory suit and found in favor of the Government for the transfer of testing in accordance with the A-76 decision of April 24, 1998

December 17, 1998 - The U.S. Comptroller General denied the protests filed by the commercial laboratories and sustained the A-76 decision memorandum of April 24, 1998 awarding ANG

October 26, 1999 - Biochemical Testing Advisory Board (BTAB) recommended
unanimously that DoD authorize testing for 2-oxo-3-hydroxyLSD in urine by LC/MS or
LC/MS/MS to identify LSD users.

2000 - DoD issued a formal solicitation to purchase a newer, more sensitive screening
reagent to detect Ecstasy use.

May 11, 2000 - SecDef reduces reapplication waiting time from 180 days to 45 days for
marijuana positive applicants.

July 31, 2002 - DepSecDef DoD Counternarcotics Policy Memorandum Drug Demand
Reduction Program initiatives include: expanded testing of Reserves and National Guard,
consistent Service and Defense Agency policies regarding drug use, expanded
community outreach programs for Department dependents, and expanded use of Reserve
and National Guard demand reduction programs.

December 18, 2002 - Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations /Low Intensity
Conflict) policy response to DepSecDef 31 July 2002 Memorandum initiated the
following salient initiatives: 100% random testing for Service, Components and DoD
Civilian Testing Designated Positions, ensure selected senior Department members in
random testing positions are tested at least once a year, mandatory drug testing for
military entrants from the delayed entry program within 72 hours of entering active duty,
process military members who knowingly use a prohibited drug for separation from
military service, move laboratory testing towards a joint service system, and add
amphetamine testing to military applicant testing.

October 1, 2003 - Assistant Secretary of Defense Special Operations /Low Intensity Conflict (ASD(SO/LIC)) memorandum “Department Drug Demand Reduction Policy” extended the Department’s drug demand reduction policy in three DoD policy statements: Directive 1010.1, 1010.9, and Instruction 1010.16 and rescinded ASD(SO/LIC) memorandum “Department of Defense Civilian Drug Testing”, dated January 10, 2001.  This memorandum establishes the policy “zero tolerance” in that military members that knowing use a prohibited drug must be processed for separation from military service.

September 24, 2004 - Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Low Intensity Conflict (ASD(SO/LIC)) memorandum "Department of the Air Force Demand Reduction and Prevention Program accepted the AF approach to use unit sweeps, gate checks, and "Smart Testing" to achieve the 100 percent testing goal of the October 01, 2003 guidance.

January 1, 2004 - Tri-Service Standing Operating Procedures implemented.

October 22, 2004 - DoD Office of General Counsel provided opinion in the memorandum “Applicability of Human Research Protections to Certain Activities” that the drug prevalence testing program does not have the attributes of human subject research.

October 22, 2004 - Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity
Conflict) memorandum for mandatory random drug testing of all military members in
Afghanistan for more than 60 days. Memorandum also required all significant drug
abuse events to be reported to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Counternarcotics as soon as possible.

AF DDRP 2004 Memo

April 1, 2005 - Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics
Memorandum prohibiting the use of non-instrumented testing devices for field drug
testing.

August 10, 2005 - Secretary of Defense Memorandum directing that the Drug Demand
Reduction Program be moved to the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and
Readiness

August 11, 2005 - Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity
Conflict) Memorandum change to standard drug panel for the following: add screening
for oxycodone and oxymorphone, requirement for dl-amphetamine isomer confirmation,
and eliminated the requirement for barbiturate screening.

January 12, 2006 - Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics
Memorandum changed the amphetamine concentration cutoff from 500ng/mL or a least
20% d-isomer to a confirmation cutoff of 100 ng/mL or greater d-isomer for both
amphetamine and methamphetamine.

June 12, 2006 - Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity
Conflict) Memorandum changed the Pre-Accession Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy as
follows: cocaine positive applicant can be only retested once, and added the amphetamine
testing to the military accession screening panel.

July 5, 2006 - Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict)
Memorandum rescinded the requirement in the 18 December 2002 policy that required
Senior DoD members to be testing at least once a year non-randomly, at the advice of the
Department of Justice.

December 20, 2006 - Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics
Memorandum eliminated LSD screening from the DoD Standard Drug Screening Panel.

January 24, 2007 - Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum effectively transferred
the Demand Reduction Program from the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy to the
Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

July 26, 2007 - Director for Administration and Management Memorandum to transfer
the issuance authority for DoD Directive 1010.1, 1010.4, 1010.9 and 1010.16.

August 30, 2007 - Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
Memorandum delegation of authority for the Drug Demand Reduction Program to
Director, TRICARE Management Activity.

September 27, 2007 - Memorandum allowing the Services to use the U.S. Army Fort
Meade Forensic Toxicology Drug Testing Laboratory’s National Laboratory Certification
Program certified validity testing services.

January 10, 2008 - Director TRICARE Management Activity Memorandum delegation
of authority for the Drug Demand Reduction Program to the Deputy Directory TRICARE
Management Activity.

December 29, 2008 - The ASD(HA) issued the memorandum “Modification of the Department of Defense Opiate Drug Testing Procedures”.

December 10, 2008 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy issued the memorandum “Review and Comments of the Navy Medical Support Command DoD Drug Testing Facilities Utilization Study”. One of the final conclusions was that DoD saves $21 million per year by using government owned and managed FTDTLs as opposed to out-sourcing lab services.

January 8, 2009 - The ASD(HA) issued the memorandum “National Guard Bureau Positive Drug Testing Rates” to solicit contact information for the 13 states with positive
rates above 3 percent. 

March 6, 2009 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy issued the memorandum “Interface Development between the Drug Demand Reduction Program (DDRP) Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the Pharmacy Data Transaction Service (PDTS)”

March 10, 2012 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy issued the memorandum “Designer Drug Testing Policy Change” directing the Chief Deputy Medical Examiner, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology to instruct the Service program managers to eliminate MDEA from the screening process at their respective laboratories.

April 28, 2009 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy issued the memorandum “Implementation of New Urinalysis Drug Testing Discrepancy Codes” to support
additional efforts by the Service FTDTLs to create a more flexible and efficient drug
testing support across the entire system.

May 5, 2009 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy issued the memorandum “Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs” to provide
the DoD Agencies with sufficient lead time to make any necessary program changes to
ensure compliance.

May 21, 2009 - Acting Deputy Director TRICARE Management Activity released the memorandum “Fiscal Year 2008 Status of Drug Use in the Department of Defense
(DoD) Personnel Report for publication.

September 7, 2010 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy briefed COL Macedonia, Medical Sciences Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the DoD Drug Demand Reduction Program Introduction and Overview.

November 1, 2010 - In the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) memorandum for OUSD(P&R), “Systems Approach to Drug Demand Reduction in the Force”, the CJCS recommended several actions to improve the DDRP.  OUSD(P&R) concurred on March 28,2011

January 14, 2011 - Deputy Directory TRICARE Management Activity transferred delegation of authority for the Drug Demand Reduction Program to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness.

February 4, 2011 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy provided three information paper to the Deputy Director TRICARE Management Activity; Drug Demand Reduction Program “Spice” Testing, Proposal for the Pulse Testing of Military Member Specimens for the Prescription Drugs: Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, and Benzodiazepines, and Drug Demand Reduction Program Civilian Drug Testing

March 1, 2011 - The Fiscal Year 2009 Status of Drug Use in the Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel Report was published.

April 2011 - Toxicology Division, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System begins limited LC/MS/MS testing under investigative purposes for Spice analogues JWH 18 and JWH 73 carboxy metabolites.

June 2011 - USAF FTDTL relocated to a new facility at Lackland AFB from Brooks City Base facility.

June 15, 2011 - The DoD OUSD(P&R) initiated an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Health to conduct A feasibility study for implementing random synthetic cannabinoidmimetic testing in the military personnel drug testing program.  The goal was to identify and address gaps in existing scientific studies and technology and offer cost effective and legally defensible solutions that will support the possible addition of synthetic cannabinoidmimetic drugs to the DoD panel of random tested drugs.

July 8, 2011 - USD(P&R) released to the Assistant Secretaries of the Military Department for manpower and reserve affairs a memorandum lowering the annual random testing rate for civilians in testing designated positions from 100% to 50%.  The memorandum re-released to the DoD agencies on March 14, 2012.

July 26, 2011 - The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) memorandum “USAF “Spice” Testing Program” supported the AF Spice pilot program provided that its scope be limited to determining the prevalence of these substances in use by USAF service members.  USD(P&R) did not support the use of the urinalysis results alone for prosecuting or taking adverse administrative actions against service members  for the use of Spice.

August 15, 2011 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy provided a DoD Drug Demand Reduction Program Initiatives presentation to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to solicit support from the Service Chiefs to initiate expanded prescription drug testing.

October 27, 2011 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy approved a request from the Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) Forensic Toxicology Drug Testing Laboratory (FTDTL) to conduct live testing of service member urinalysis specimens utilizing the Electronic Prescription Review System (ePRS).

December 01, 2011 - Toxicology Division, AFMES moves from Rockville, MD facility to Dover, DE AFB facility as required by BRAC.

December 11, 2011 - The Director, Drug Testing and Program Policy forwarded the Prescription Drug Testing Communication Plan to Public Affairs as a proactive strategy to communicate DoD’s expanded prescription drug testing program to ensure messages are aligned with Legislative Affairs, Joint Staff, Public Communication and the military services.
January 27, 2012 - USD(P&R) delivered to the Congressional appropriation committees the DOD prescription drug implementation plan which was required due to the HAC-D budget draft which included language prohibiting obligation of $23,000,000 for expanded prescription drug testing until SECDEF submits an implementation plan

January 31, 2012 - USD(P&R) released to the Services an ALDODACT message encouraging drug counseling and treatment 90 days prior to the launch of the expanded prescription drug testing regimen.

February 8, 2012 - The National Family Partnership presented the National Organizational Leadership Award to the USD(P&R) for conducting the largest and most outstanding Red Ribbon outreach effort.

April 11, 2012 - USD(P&R) memorandum changed the codeine and morphine initial screening cutoff from 2000 ng/mL to 300 ng/mL.

May 01, 2012 - DDRP program initiates testing for hydrocodone and hydromorphone and discontinues routine testing for Phencyclidine (PCP) at the 6 military drug testing laboratories.  Requests for PCP testing will be referred to the Toxicology Division AFMES, Dover DE.

May 01, 2012 - The Fiscal Year 2010 Status of Drug Use in the Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel Report was published.

May 31, 2012 - The Fiscal Year 2011 Status of Drug Use in the Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel Report was published.

June 22, 2012 - DoD Instruction 1010.09, “DoD Civilian Employee Drug-Free Workplace Program” Reissued.

July 09, 2012 - The “Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovations Act, which contains a Subtitle D, ‘Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012” that effectively schedules all synthetic cannabinoid compounds and expands the list of synthetic amphetamines to 11, that are now Schedule 1 illicit drugs (no medical application).

September 13, 2012 - DoD Instruction 1010.01, "Military Personnel Drug Abuse Testing Program" Reissued.

October 10, 2012 - DoD Instruction 1010.16, "Technical Procedures for the Military Personnel Drug Abuse Testing Program" Reissued.