USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, Carrier Strike Group 1 issued new guidance for the prevention and control of intoxicating substances Feb. 10 aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
The instruction was introduced to establish policy specifically prohibiting the use, manufacture, possession or introduction of controlled substance analogues - commonly referred to as "designer" drugs - by strike group and Carl Vinson personnel.
The instruction coincides with Carl Vinson's recent implementation of a designer drug de-glamorization campaign and references such Navy instructions as SECNAVINST 5300.28D, OPNAVINST 5350.4D and 21 USC 801.
"Our main focus right now is education," said Lt. Cmdr. Frank Hutchison, Judge Advocate General aboard Carl Vinson. "Sailors need to know that this is not an alternative to drug use - it is drug use."
Analogue drugs like "Spice," "Dream," and Salvia Divinorum have chemical structures very similar to outlawed schedule I and II drugs and mimic their effects on the mind and body.
"Spice, Salvia [Divinorum] and other drugs are not meant for human ingestion," said Hutchison. "The reason they're illegal in the Navy isn't just because they're terrible for your health, but also because they create a very unsafe environment that we can't have our Sailors be a part of. That's just not how we operate here [aboard Carl Vinson]."
While Carl Vinson's proactive approach has enabled the carrier to enjoy zero designer drug incidents this year, command leadership remains fully engaged in preventive measures and crew awareness efforts.
With the "Gold Eagle" Legal team actively informing Sailors on the punitive consequences of substance abuse, Health Services personnel focusing on educating the crew on associated health risks, and the ship's Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (and Drug and Alcohol Program advisors working to develop their own synthetic drug counseling program, no bases - or deckplates - are left uncovered.
"We are getting the word out more and more effectively every day to let our Sailors know that the use of these substances is unacceptable," said Hutchison. "The bottom line is they harm you, kill you and your brain cells, and are just dangerous. These products can harm you just the same way other controlled substances can."
Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Richard Gotautas agreed, adding that occupational risks should also be considered.
"Illegal or unauthorized drugs of any type are detrimental to good order and discipline, and a complete list of short and long-term health risks is still unknown," Gotautas said. "They're mind-altering, so as we're working on routine jobs every day in this industrial environment, a Sailor under the influence could be putting everybody's lives at risk."
Sailors caught possessing, attempting to use, or using controlled substances can face general courts martial, dishonorable discharge, and up to two years of confinement.
"The Navy's drug policy is zero tolerance; it's no different with spice or any other synthetic drug," said Hutchison. "Whether you're smoking marijuana, huffing paint, or doing anything else that will get you 'high,' you are breaking the law."
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.