Waiver and Waiting Periods for Postive Drug Tests for Army Applicants

You May Be Able to Get a Second Drug Test If Your First Is Positive

Urine sample in doctor's office
••• Karen D'Silva / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Like all other branches of the U.S. military, the Army requires incoming recruits to be tested for illegal drugs at a Military Entry Processing Station, or MEPS. This is where potential soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and other would-be members of the military are evaluated.

This is where military applicants are either accepted or rejected for enlistment. MEPS is administered under the purview of the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command.

They'll take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test to determine which job they're most qualified for in the military, and will undergo medical examinations, which include a urine test to screen for drugs. 

What Drugs Does the Military Screen For?

In 2017, the Department of Defense expanded its drug testing for applicants to include screening for all the drugs tested in active duty military members; previously they were only tested for cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. 

In addition to being tested for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamine, the new testing will include other highly-addictive substances such as heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine, among others. These are the substances that active military members are tested for three times a year.

What Happens if I Fail the MEPS Drug Test?

The first time an applicant fails the drug screening, he or she has to wait 90 days, and then may reapply with a waiver at the discretion of the particular branch of the military to which he or she is applying. 

The military used to have different reapplication rules for different drugs, but under the updated policy, an applicant has one chance to reapply no matter which drug or drugs is found in his or her system

Testing positive for any of the banned drugs more than once is grounds for permanent disqualification for any branch of the U.S. military. 

Drug Testing Rules for Prior Service Personnel

​Prior service personnel who test positive at MEPS for any illegal drug or alcohol are permanently disqualified.

Testing Positive for Drugs at MEPS and Additional Requirements

All applicants who test positive will be required to have a police records check conducted as part of the waiver process regardless of any admission or record of civil offenses.

Applicants with an approved drug or alcohol test waiver (meaning they've failed their first drug test) are prohibited from enlisting in any military occupational specialty (MOS)  or option that requires a security clearance.