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20% of NZ soldiers tried drugs: survey
date: 20-May-2005
country: NEW ZEALAND
editorial comment editorial comment
and the others lied :)

More than 20 per cent of soldiers, sailors and airmen in the New Zealand defence forces have admitted they have experimented with drugs, mostly marijuana.

In an anonymous survey across all three services 20.5 per cent of those surveyed said they had tried illicit drugs since they enlisted.

The survey by army Major Andrena Patterson as part of her master of public policy degree was sent to more than 2,100 service people, a quarter of those serving in all three branches of the military.

About half the survey forms were filled out anonymously and returned, said the air force magazine Air Force News in its latest issue.

The survey asked what they knew about illicit drugs, their views about drug taking within the military and if they had taken drugs since they enlisted.

The magazine said defence personnel felt the penalties for drug taking were an effective deterrent.

Defence Force assistant chief (personnel) Commodore Bruce Pepperell said testing on about 3,000 personnel in the past year had showed one per cent had used illicit drugs.

AdvertisementHe said people found in possession of drugs would be disciplined and those with a positive urine analysis would be warned and counselled. A second positive sample usually meant dismissal.

He said the research showed the defence forces were "going down the right path" with its policies on illegal drug use and that other research showed about 50 per cent of people outside the services had experimented with illegal drugs.

He said to have 20 per cent of service personnel experimenting with drugs was "not good" but the research did not show if it was 15 years ago before urinalysis was introduced, "or even 30 years ago".

Cdre Pepperell said the heartening aspect of the research was the attitude of most of those surveyed to their colleagues who used illegal drugs.

"They don't want to work alongside someone who may be putting them, or their unit, at risk.

"They realise the health benefits of being drug-free and appreciate being part of an organisation where their colleagues do not condone drug use."

The magazine said Defence Force chief Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson said the research would help the NZDF review of its policy on substance abuse.

He said the services had an obligation to provide a safe workplace and illegal drugs could undermine that.

All three services aimed to test every person randomly once a year, the magazine said.

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