Army personnel abuse more synthetic drugs than any other mind-altering substances, according to a recent survey by the University of Washington.
The study, which will be published in the July edition of Addictive Behaviors, indicates that nearly 40 percent of active Army service members, who admit to using illegal drugs often choose to smoke synthetic marijuana instead of natural cannabis.
Interestingly, out of the 368 soldiers who participated in the survey, about one-third reported getting high in some form or fashion within the past three months. Soldiers also indicated that while they believe civilians are using more illegal drugs than military personnel, they are convinced that soldiers are leading the nation in the abuse of synthetic marijuana.
Lead researcher Tom Walton says soldiers appear to be leaning towards synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as “K2 or “Spice” because it is not likely to be discovered during a drug test. These compounds are hard to detect and the effects are volatile because manufacturers are constantly synthesizing new variations of the drug to get around the federal government’s Schedule I classification.
“Because the formulation is constantly changing, one batch could be innocuous while the next batch affects you totally differently and you land in the hospital with seizures,” said Walton. “So the health effects are very unpredictable.”
Synthetic marijuana has a reputation for being dangerous and unstable, with many emergency rooms reporting people suffering from adverse effects ranging from seizures to cardiovascular issues, as well as psychological reverberations, including anxiety, irritability and memory loss.
It should be noted that the United States military has placed bans on all forms of synthetic marijuana. Any soldier caught using illegal substances, including synthetic marijuana, is subject to immediate discharge. It is for this reason that most active service members avoid the consumption of illegal drugs.
In the past, many soldiers simply resorted to using alcohol as a means to cope with the added stress of working as a hitman for Uncle Sam. However, for many, K2 has become an alternative to booze and a way around the government’s strict drug policies.
There is speculation that the military plans to include synthetic marijuana in their drug screening process sometime in the near future. Yet, it remains uncertain as to when.
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