Army Places Limitations on the Use of Prescribed Medications

By Army Resilience DirectorateMay 19, 2021

The Army published new guidance on the use of prescribed medications and controlled substances on May 19.

Army Directive 2021-21 implements a requirement for Commanders to ensure all Soldiers are aware of new limitations on the length of time they can use certain medications in the absence of a prescribed time frame.

Normally, prescription medications are valid for the period time as written by a physician to the patient to whom it was prescribed.

In accordance with the new directive, prescription medications will be considered expired and illegitimate for use six months after the most recent fill date, as indicated on the prescription label.

“This directive is designed to deter prescription drug abuse and to educate Soldiers about the dangers of using a prescription controlled substance without current medical supervision,” said Mr. Tom Gilliard, Army Substance Abuse Program Manager. “The policy is also intended to teach Soldiers about the need to properly dispose of those medications.”

Gilliard said the use of expired and illegitimate medications is now considered punitive and violations may subject offenders to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and/or administrative actions.

“This new policy will help to strengthen the overall fitness and effectiveness of the Army´s workforce and enhance the combat readiness of Soldiers,” Dr. James A. Helis, Director of the Army Resilience Directorate.

The policy is applicable to the Regular Army, Army National Guard/Army National Guard of the United States, and U.S. Army Reserve.