The Ministry of Defence is considering introducing rehabilitation courses
for soldiers testing positive for drug use.
MoD spokeswoman Sarah Hayward stressed that the scheme is only a proposal at
this stage and if adopted would only be used in exceptional circumstances.
She said it was not currently the role of the forces to provide
rehabilitation and that having regular drug users in the army is unacceptable.
"We are not a rehabilitation unit," she added.
Last year 668 soldiers tested positive for drug use – up from 540 in 2000,
but the MoD claims one of the reasons for the increase is that the number of
tests carried out has increased.
Testing is compulsory but units are not aware of when they are to be tested.
Hayward said current soldiers who test positive for drugs can be retained in
the services, providing it is their first such offence and they are supported
by their commanding officer. The offending soldier must also be young, new to
their career, under the rank of Lance Corporal and the substance being abused
must not be a Class A drug.
Hayward said because of these strict controls only 7 per cent of soldiers who
test positive for the first time are retained.