Drugs and Supplements

The British Army takes a zero-tolerance approach to substance misuse. Drugs affect the fitness and reliability of service people and have a corrosive effect on operational effectiveness. Fail a drugs test, and you can expect to be discharged from the service.

Recreational drugs

Recreational drugs are chemical substances taken for enjoyment, or leisure purposes, rather than for medical reasons. They can lead to addiction, to health and social problems and to crime. Most are illegal, so their use comes with all the consequences of breaking the law. The three categories of drugs are Class A, Class B and Class C:

  • Class A drugs: heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, methadone and crystal meth
  • Class B drugs: speed, cannabis, ketamine, mephedrone and some amphetamines
  • Class C drugs: anabolic steroids, GHB and some tranquilisers

Prescription medication

Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription medication either not prescribed to you or in a way not prescribed by your doctor. Prescription drug abuse or problematic use includes everything from taking a friend's prescription painkiller for your backache to snorting or injecting ground-up pills to get high.

Dietary supplements

The Armed Forces do not encourage the use of supplements. Supplements should not be used to compensate for poor food choices or an inadequate diet. Service personnel should exercise special care in the use of dietary supplements for sport or fitness as there is a risk of contamination with substances that may produce a positive drugs test, including steroids.

The “Informed-Sport” website screens supplements for contamination. Service people are advised to use this tool to identify products that have passed this screening process. However, the process cannot offer a 100% guarantee that supplements sourced are free of steroid contamination.



The Army’s position is clear: substance misuse is incompatible with Army life, and it will never be tolerated. Armed Forces employment is unique, and every soldier is expected to live by the  Army’s Values and Standards, which is underpinned by the Army Discipline system. Service personnel are therefore regularly tested for substance misuse and those who fail a drugs test can expect to be discharged from the Service.



The Army has a three-tiered strategy for substance misuse:

  • Prevent through education: to address the issues surrounding substance misuse, the Army provides drug awareness education that focuses on the dangers of substance misuse to service personnel, including their personal health, and the wider detrimental impact on operational effectiveness.
  • Deter through testing: all regular and reserve units are tested annually by the Armed Forces Compulsory Drug Testing team.
  • Regulate through discipline and administrative action: any service person found to have used illegal substances will be disciplined appropriately, including discharge from service.