USA: Naval Criminal Investigative Service Brings New Drug Awareness Campaign to NMCP

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service brought its new Drug Awareness Campaign, part of the Crime Reduction Program, to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth March 21 for the final of three visits.

The initiative informs Department of the Navy personnel about the facts and consequences of using synthetic narcotics.

The brief at NMCP, hosted by NCIS special agent Kurt Inman and also given on Feb. 15 and March 4, focused on two designer drugs: spice and bath salts. The use of both is on the rise in the Navy, and by bringing the brief to different commands, NCIS hopes it can reduce the use of the drugs.

“The ultimate goal is to reach as many (Navy) personnel as possible to educate them on the ramifications of using, possessing and/or distributing synthetic narcotics,” Inman said. “The focus of this campaign is to prevent synthetic narcotics abuse and emphasize bystander involvement and intervention.”

Inman used an in-depth PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the information to the medical center’s auditorium. The presentation showed photos of the drugs, charts of related information, as well as where and how the drugs are often used and symptoms of their use.

Spice users report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart, and in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks. There have been fatal results from use of the drug or from actions while on the drug.

Signs of bath salts use include increased blood pressure, chest pains, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, kidney pain, increased body temperature or chills, muscle tension, nausea, confusion, reduced need for food or sleep, paranoia, suicidal ideas and delusions. Users may overheat and tear off their clothes. There may be aggressive, uncontrolled attacks on others, or self-destruction. Pepper spray or tasers may have no effect.

Inman then related his interactions with Sailors and Marines who have used spice and bath salts, Inman and involved the audience in the discussion. He answered questions and asked for any new information or first-hand experiences the staff may have had with patients who have used the drugs.
Lt. j. g. Victoria Holzapfel, NMCP command Drug and Alcohol Program advisor, attended the presentation.

“I hope Sailors learned about the dangers of using spice and bath salts, and the repercussions that can come from their use,” Holzapfel said.

“The Navy’s policy on drug use is zero tolerance, and this includes designer drugs. Spice is not legal,” she continued. “Neither are bath salts, despite their availability. This means a mandatory administrative separation for any Sailor who uses them, and that doesn’t take into account any legal action. More importantly, the production of these drugs is not regulated. There are different strengths in each batch and you can’t really know what you’re putting into your body.”

Inman emphasized in the conclusion of his presentation the availability of the NCIS tip lines. The initiative encourages bystanders to report spice and bath salt use, and Inman explained there are three anonymous options to inform NCIS.

Following the NCIS presentation, Command Master Chief (SW/AW/FMF) Michael James addressed the audience to emphasize the importance of reporting any bath salts or spice use Sailors encounter.

“This topic is very important,” James said. “We’ve had four Sailors this year that we have processed out of the Navy for the use of spice or other drugs. I want to remind everyone of zero tolerance. Spice and bath salts are just like marijuana or anything else. If you are caught with these items or you know shipmates who are using it, you will be held accountable.

“We are here to treat our patients, warriors and their families,” James stated. “You should be here at the top of your game every morning when you report. We have no place for this in the Navy and we have no place for it at the ‘First and Finest.’ Please be responsible and please take care of each other. We’re great people here doing great things for a good reason. If you see something wrong going on, it is your responsibility and your duty to report it.”

As part of the medical center’s continuing efforts to inform and eliminate synthetic narcotic use, the command DAPA will display posters to deglamorize the use of spice and bath salts, and will promote videos produced by Navy Medicine showing the dangers of using these drugs.

Naval Today Staff, March 27, 2013