Army Substance Abuse Program - Synthetic Stimulant Use

Thursday February 20, 2014

What is it?

The Army Center for Substance Abuse Program (ACSAP) provides commanders guidance/ resources on all non-clinical alcohol and other drug policy issues. ACSAP is concerned about the use of synthetic drugs in the Army.

Of primary concern are:

  • (1) Synthetic THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) substitutes commonly sold under the names “Spice” and “K2.”
  • (2) Designer cathinones commonly referred to as “bath salts.”

Synthetic THC substitutes have no known application other than mimicking the effects of THC in the human body and are now available on the open market in many states. Designer cathinones are derivatives of 2-aminopropanal that have no approved medical use in the United States and are listed as Drugs of Concern by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Designer cathinones are designed solely to be used as a means to produce excitement, intoxication, and/or stupefaction of the central nervous system. Their effects are closely related in action to methamphetamines, and they are available for purchase over the Internet and in convenience stores.

What has the Army done?

Current Army Regulations and Secretary of the Army Directives have banned the use and possession of synthetic THC substitutes and designer cathinones in the Army. Currently, Synthetic THC is part of the routine testing panel effective Dec. 21, 2013. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) provides testing support for synthetic THC substitutes to the Army for active Criminal Investigation Division (CID) cases.

Why is this important to the Army?

Substance abuse is inconsistent with the high standards of performance, discipline, and readiness necessary to accomplish the Army mission. Not only are synthetic drugs dangerous, but they can cost a Soldier his or her military career. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) emphasizes that users of synthetic drugs suffer vomiting, anxiety, seizures, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, organ damage, and even death.

Soldiers can face disciplinary action that could include a discharge if they test positive for synthetic drugs, including “spice” and “bath salts.”

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

The Army has synchronized programs/services such as ASAP under the Ready and Resilient Campaign to ensure the Army family is armed with the tools necessary to maintain personal resiliency in the face of adversity. ASAP resources will continue to focus on resiliency and positive life-coping skills of the Army family in an effort to not only lower incidents of substance abuse, but to enhance the quality of life for the entire Army community.


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