While members of the United States Army are known for their heroism and bravery around the world, military life is regimented and they aren’t allowed to do many of the things civilians can. The Army, for example, tests for drugs – which leads many people to ask: Does the Army test for kratom?
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is related to the coffee family. This herb is used widely in Southeast Asia and has gained popularity in the United States as well in recent years. But if you are in the Army, then this herb is totally off-limits. In fact, partaking in this herb can have serious consequences for you.
Here is what you need to know about how the Army handles kratom and other banned substances.
As mentioned, kratom is an herb from Southeast Asia. It’s a plant related to the coffee family that has its leaves harvested and dried, then crushed up for consumption. There are many different strains of kratom available from Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar, usually under one of three categories: white, green, and red vein kratom.
The color of the vein in kratom refers to how old the leaves were when harvested. White is the youngest while red is the most mature. The more mature the plant, the higher the levels of the compounds mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are.
It is the position of the Department of Defense and the United States Armed Forces that some substances, even supplements, can have an impact on the readiness of the military and prevent those who are in service from performing at the level expected of them. That’s why some supplements and substances that can be used by civilians legally are not allowed to be used by members of the military. If someone is caught using the substances prohibited by the Department of Defense, then penalties are involved.
The types of substances banned by the military include:
In 2014, kratom was added to the list of substances banned for use by those in the military because it is considered an intoxicating substance. While there may not be research to support this, the military typically only approves substances for use that have been approved by the FDA – which kratom has not.
While one day it may change and kratom may be allowed, at this time it is against military regulation.
The typical Department of Defense drug test does not specifically test for kratom. In fact, it would have to be specifically tested to know if a person had it in their system or not. At present, the military, including the Army, only tests for these substances:
It is unknown whether or not the Army has a drug test specifically for kratom, but since kratom is on the banned substances list, then it should be a part of their drug screening process. In 2017, the list of substances screened for was expanded, but kratom was not on the list. It should be noted, however, that the Army does test for opioids and there is a chance that as an opioid receptor antagonist, kratom compounds could be flagged by a drug test as an opioid.
In the world of drug tests, there is no specific test yet for kratom. This is likely because it’s still a relatively new supplement but also because there simply aren’t that many studies on kratom. What’s interesting is that in many places, kratom is criminalized, but there is no drug test that can detect it. You would think that something a government has gone to the trouble of criminalizing would be tested for, but that’s simply not the case.
Of course, tests that detect substances in the body are becoming more advanced each day. One day there more than likely will be a test for kratom and it will then in all likelihood be added to the drug screens performed by the military.
As you can see, the question of the Army test for kratom isn’t as clear as it may seem it should be. While it isn’t currently tested that doesn’t mean that it will not change in the very near future. The simple lack of understanding of kratom is what fuels the fact that it’s been left off of standardized drug tests, but as it grows in popularity, that may change. Add in the fact that it’s a substance the military prohibits and it seems like it should be included in their drug testing procedures.
If you are in the Army or in any other job where you will be drug tested, it’s probably a good idea not to use substances that you may be worried will show up on a drug screening, even as a false positive. If you are an active member of the Army, it behooves you to be in compliance with their no-kratom policy in the interest of your future.
As the technology grows and more research is done on kratom, there is some hope that this herb will be accepted. But whether the Army will be on board with any of those changes, no one can say for sure.