Substance Abuse Testing


My new doctor had an issue with my positive test for THC UDS. I retested negative but he didn't sign off on refill of back pain medication until my next appointment. I went 2+ days without the pain medication I have been on since 2004 for back issues, How do I find out the procedure used around pain medication and testing positive then retesting negative for THC? Is it to immediately stop without consultation? This happened while going through 10+ pain due to a new back injury. I appreciate your help to us vets.


Jim's Reply:

Marijuana is still illegal. That isn't a VA policy, it's a federal law. The procedure for terminating your narcotic medication is pretty much the same as that used for testing employees although your risk is losing access to your narcotic meds. 

VA publishes a lot about policy and procedure and then doesn't usually follow most of it. You should be given informed consent to test for marijuana but nobody ever is.

To answer your question, in practice all narcotic medications are usually stopped immediately upon testing positive for substance abuse. The usual VA primary care provider isn't going to have the time to notify you or debate whether or not you should have your prescription. Most VA doctors, in my experience, won't bother with testing you a 2nd time, they just refuse to refill pain med prescriptions.

This draconian approach to marijuana use isn't only at your VA, the DEA has most civilian providers following similar protocols and of course there are nationwide drug tracking programs so if you shop around for a provider, you'll be noticed.

In the end the DEA has made it so that you will either give up smoking pot or give up your narcotic prescriptions. Good luck.



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