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DDR increases detection, deterrence measures

Andre Johnson 36th Medical Group Drug Demand Reduction program manager, discusses urinalysis procedures with Andersen Airmen Sept. 2, 2014 on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Andersen has increased testing and unit sweeps to meet the Department of Defense’s heightened testing requirements. (Courtesy photo)

Andre Johnson 36th Medical Group Drug Demand Reduction program manager, discusses urinalysis procedures with Andersen Airmen Sept. 2, 2014 on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Andersen has increased testing and unit sweeps to meet the Department of Defense’s heightened testing requirements. (Courtesy photo)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, GUAM -- Team Andersen is continuing to expand its drug testing programs in order to detect and deter the use of illicit drugs among military and civilian members.

In December 2013, the 36th Wing Drug Demand Reduction Program expanded the number of drugs it tests for, to include synthetic marijuana, also known as "spice."  Beginning this month, DDR officials increased its use of unit sweeps, or large-scale testing of entire flights or squadrons all at once.

"We already have a very active and effective program here in terms of individual drug testing" said Capt (Dr.) David Shwalb, 36th Wing Drug Demand Reduction officer in charge.  According to Shwalb, thousands of specimens are collected annually at Andersen.  "What Airmen will be seeing more of is full unit sweeps and random drug testing at the gates and other locations across the base.  DDR is going mobile."

To launch this expansion in drug testing, the entire 36th Force Support Squadron recently underwent a unit sweep.  "The recall notification goes out early in the morning and everyone has two hours to report for testing," said Mr. Andre Johnson, DDR Program Manager.  To accommodate a unit of this size, testing was conducted on Sept. 8 at the base theater. 

Shwalb stated that their best option is to seek appropriate medical care immediately when asked about Airmen struggling with drug issues.

"We highly encourage anyone with substance or drug problems to self-refer to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program," he said.  "Once we select them for drug testing, they no longer have the option to self-refer for treatment." 

Referring to recent downsizing across the Air Force, Shwalb noted that "with all the drug testing at Andersen, I wouldn't leave my career up to chance.  If I had a drug problem, I would call them for help before they called me to come test."

For more information about the Drug Demand Reduction Program or drug treatment options, Airmen and civilians can contact the 36th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight at 366-5125.