Substance Abuse

Federal Agencies Are Asked To Document Education for Drug Abuse

How much do we know about prescription drug abuse? The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recently completed a report in which it asks for the federal agencies to take further action on improving the general public’s knowledge on prescription drug abuse. They are calling for them to educate not only the general public, but also the prescribers.

From 2003 to 2009 prescription drug abuse has rapidly increase and has been misused. Federal officials have suggested that this increase in drug abuse in is due in part to increasingly availability, high-risk behavior and combining the prescription pills with alcohol or other drugs. Although due to lack of data it is not officially known if these contributed to the rapid rise of drug abuse.

Therefore the GAO has now asked other agencies to provide more information and conduct further education in hopes to decline the number of prescription abuse. Although the agencies currently provide similar strategies and educational tools there are only two agencies that have actually implemented plans to document and assess the impact of their educational efforts to the public.

The report states that “without outcome evaluations, federal agencies have limited knowledge of how effective their efforts are in achieving their goals — in this case, reducing prescription pain reliever abuse and misuse”.

Some of these agencies include the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Their practices for educating the public for drug abuse include continuing educational classes, conducting mandatory training, certification before being allowed to prescribe certain drugs and also creating literature for future prescribers.

Currently the Office of National Control Policy (ONDCP) is creating a legislative proposal in order to provide further education for any prescriber who is enrolling into the Drug Enforcement Administration as mentioned in the report. It also mentions that the ONDCP needs to begin plans to judge their educational practices and to share drug abuse lessons among other agencies.



Workplace Testing

North Dakota Has a Spike of Drug Testing Workers

Drug testing companies in North Dakota are booming with sales due to it’s oil industry and strong economy. Medcenter One Occupational Health Clinics have three clinics located in Dickinson, Bismarck and Minot, they have seen an increase in sales of 256% since 2009.

Since more workers have been flocking to North Dakota to work in the oil industry they need to be drug tested before they are qualified to be hired. Substance abusers at the work place have been known to cost the employer more money to employ. This is due to increased number of accidents, unsafe working conditions and missed working days are just a few reasons why drug users should not be allowed in the workplace.

Jennifer McGregor who is a drug testing manager stated that, “Sixty-five percent of on the job accidents and injuries are due to drug and alcohol use. Employees that use drugs and alcohol are not very healthy, so they utilize three times more medical benefits. They`re less dependable and less productive.”

They also are not just a threat to themselves but also to other people around them, especially in the oil industry.

Cory White, Senior HSE Specialist for Baker Hughes says, “We work several odd shifts. The guys don`t have a set schedule shift. Being under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, moods can fly, tempers can fly. With the equipment that we have, if you`re not coherent or alert, there`s definitely an opportunity for you to injure yourself or hurt someone else.”.

530 drug tests were performed on White’s employees last month who were either in the pre-employment stage or a randomly selected worker. Over the years White has only had a few problems with drug testing. He says he makes it clear to his employees what the standards are.

The drug tests that White gives is a five panel urine test that checks for use of PCP, opiates, THC, amphetamines and marijuana.

Drug Testing News

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Passes Only To Withdrawn

In the state of Indiana one of the original supporters of the bill for drug testing welfare applicants, Rep. Jud McMillin has now withdrawn the bill after it had passed. Before it was passed one of his Democratic companions included that lawmakers submit a drug test as well.

Rep McMillin is quoted as having said, “here was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill.”

Although he has intentions of re-introducing the bill. He temporarily withdrew it, due to arguable constitutional issues. He plans on introducing an option for people to opt out of random drug testing. If an applicants chooses to opt out of random drug testing, they would then only be tested if “reasonable suspicion” is witnessed. He defines reasonable suspicion by a person’s attitude, being found guilty for a crime and also by missing mandatory appointments at the welfare office.

The Indiana State Rep. Ryan Dvorak who proposed lawmakers should also submit drug tests is quoted as saying: “After it passed, Rep. McMillin got pretty upset and pulled his bill. If anything, I think it points out some of the hypocrisy…If we’re going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money.”

McMillin was noted as saying he had no problem submitting a drug test and when he returns the new bill, lawmaker drug testing will be included. “I would think legislators that are here who are responsible for the people who voted them in, they should be more than happy to consent,” he said. “Give me the cup right now and I will be happy to take the test.”

Within the last year Republican lawmakers have proposed drug testing for welfare applicants in over 30 states.

Drug Testing News

College Prep School Celebrates Five Years of Drug Testing

Christian Brothers College High School is celebrating five years of mandatory drug testing this school year. Within these five years over 5,000 drug test were given and only a total of eight students had to withdraw from this college prep school. Jane Eschmann, the schools assistant principal and administrator stated, “We think that’s a pretty phenomenal number”.

Before students begin attending the school they are informed (along with their parents) that mandatory drug testing will occur throughout the school year. This year 860 hair drug tests were given to students within the first semester. During the second semester 25 to 33 percent of students will be given random drug tests. Since the school began this procedure five years ago, there has never been a student who has refused the test.

The drug tests can detect uses of marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, PCP, heroin, opiates and ecstasy. A sample of hair is collected, usually 1.5 inches long from the students. The method of testing samples of hair is beneficial due to being able to detect whether drug use is occasional or used heavily. It can also provide and approximation of when a drug was last used. It is estimated that for a half inch of hair the test can detect 30 days of drug use.

If a student shaves their head or for other reasons, unable to provide a sample of hair from the top of their head a sample of hair can be taken off other parts of the body, such as legs or arms.

“The only drug we have seen this year is marijuana, and, of the nine positive tests this year, five were seniors and four were juniors with all freshmen and sophomores testing drug-free,” Eschmann said.

Mike England has been the schools president for 23 years and said drug testing “has been one of the most positive things that’s ever happened to our school.”.


Substance Abuse

City of Cape Town Receives New Substance Abuse Program and Drug Testing Kits

The mayoral committee member for corporate services, Demetri Qually stated the City of Cape Town have been working with the Medical Research Council (MRC) to find this link between these high number of absenteeism and substance abuse. The study took place over a two year period in order for the city to obtain as much information from the MRC as possible.

“It is envisaged that the city will benefit more from the research that the city seeks to initiate in partnership with the MRC using data from participating departments and directorates,” Qually stated.

This new project is called the Matrix project. It operates as an outpatient rehabilitation program keeping the workers in their normal day to day environment. It began with 15 employees who have graduated from round one, which is being sober for more than 120 days. Round two of the pilot program has been given the go ahead from the portfolio committee.

The city hopes that this program will encourage employees to come forward and seek help voluntarily for substance abuse problems. Out of those employees who participated in the Matrix program, 70 percent have been involved in a disciplinary hearing.

Qually said that many employees decided to resign before they could be served with notices of further action. Due to this, it was impossible to give an exact figure of how many employees were struggling with substance abuse.

A suggestion in the report recommends the city to purchase drug testing kits in order to perform on the spot drug testing. Also the managers and supervisors will be trained to “manage and test” employees who have substance abuse problems.


Drug Testing News

Missouri High School May Get Updated Drug Testing Policies

Chris Redmon, the principal at Cassville High School in Missouri, wants to change the way the school performs drug tests. He has presented a new drug testing policy to the school board in hopes to keep up with the latest drug trends. The most abused drugs of teenagers is now prescription medicine, which the schools current drug tests are unable to detect.

Currently the school district drug testing policy is to conduct 15 to 20 tests annually. One teacher, five middle school students and 15 high school students are randomly selected to take a drug test. Redmon is proposing to increase the number of tests to 16 to 20 a year.

The school presently uses a four panel drug test, which includes testing for cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamine and methamphetamine. Redmon would like the school to start using a 12 panel drug test which is capable of detecting phyncyclidine (PCP), benzodizepines (Valium/Xanax), barbiturates, oxycodone, methadone, propoxphene and also all the substances the four panel test can detect.

Redmon has also proposed to educate the students with a guest speaker and to have additional screening for synthetic drugs.

Although he admits the additional screening is pricey he feels that it could help save a students life, due to the increasing harmful effects synthetic drugs produce.

Currently the schools spends $5, 460 a year. This new proposed will cost 11,310 creating a increased price of $5,850.

Currently 85 percent of the Cassville High School students participate in the drug testing program. Any student who is active in extracurricular activities are required to take part, plus there are also students whose parents volunteered them into the program.

A first offense results in suspension from part of contests or activities the student is involved in. They can reduce the time of suspension by seeking five hours of drug and alcohol abuse counseling. A second offense will produce a one year suspension from all competitive competitions. The student will be able to reduce this time by seeking a minimum of 15 hours of drug abuse counseling.

If a third positive drug tests occurs the student will be permanently suspended from all competitive activities for the reminder of their high school career.

The school board is currently reviewing this proposed drug testing policy.



Drug Testing News

Newt Gingrich Suggests Drug Testing All Recipients of Government Aide

This week Republican candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that the federal government drug test recipients of government aide. Gingrich spoke to Yahoo’s Chris Moody, stating that “It could be through testing before you get any kind of federal aid. Unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it.”

He also recommended that by ending government benefits to drug abusers, would benefit them more efficiently than placing these people in jail. “It has always struck me that if you’re serious about trying to stop drug use, then you need to find a way to have a fairly easy approach to it and you need to find a way to be pretty aggressive about insisting — I don’t think actually locking up users is a very good thing,” he said. “I think finding ways to sanction them and to give them medical help and to get them to detox is a more logical long-term policy.”

This idea for drug testing recipients of welfare has been a popular trend lately. It began in Florida this summer when that state began the drug testing program. Recipients had to pass a urine drug test to prove that they were drug free. Although the program has now been on hold since November when a federal judge stopped it, due to a lawsuit from a 35 year old single father, who felt it violated his constitutional rights.

During this drug testing period in Florida 2.5 percent of applicants failed the mandatory drug test, which is actually a lower rate than what the general population tested for. If a failed drug test occurs the applicant has to pay for the drug test while applicants who pass are reimbursed for the test. This could be a waste of money since such a low percent of applicants have not been able to pass it. Therefore the state of Florida is spending more money for passed drug tests.



Drug Testing News

Illinois Parents Upset About Student Drug Testing

The parents of students at Lake Zurich High School in Illinois have been in a year long struggle over a proposed drug testing plan. Lake Zurich High School proposed random drug testing to occur for students who participate in extracurricular activities and drive a car to school. If a positive drug test was found, that student would be suspended from their extracurricular activities.

District 95 is expected to reject the drug testing proposal, because so many parents have complained that they are against it. A recent survey showed that seventy-six percent of the parents disagreed with the drug testing proposal.

The drug testing proposal upset a lot of parents, because they felt that they’re parental responsibilities were being taken away from them. They also felt that it was unfair to only drug test these particular students who were involved in activities. Board member Michael Finn who showed concern for these parents stated, “It’s our job to educate, it’s the police’s job to police. It’s the parents’ job to parent.”

Finn also stated that he’s pleased that these residents will have closure. “It will end a chapter and allow us to focus on what needs to get done next,” said Finn, who had been critical of the proposal.

Many of the parents who spoke against the plan said it infringed on their parental responsibilities. Others voiced concerns about privacy, and some opposed the plan because it singled out students in extracurricular programs and were worried about their children’s privacy.

Board member, Tony Pietro who at first supported random drug testing, has now changed his mind stating that he “sees now that it isn’t a good idea.” Pietro was involved in the months of discussions and was shown the results of the most recent survey.

Doug Goldberg a board member for the District 95 said that although these drug testing may not be right for this community, the effort got people talking about teen drug use.


Health and Wellness

Liver Cancer Patient Fails Drug Test and Get Removed from Transplant List

Norman Smith, a liver cancer patient, was removed from a transplant list due to using medical marijuana and failing to show up for a drug test. He is asking Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to reconsider the decision to remove his name.

In order to be put back on the list, Smith, 63 has to stop medical marijuana use, agree to random drug testing and receive counseling.

“It’s frustrating I have inoperable cancer. If I don’t get a transplant, the candle’s lit and it’s a short fuse.” Smith says.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there is no standard set for the use of medical marijuana by transplant candidates. It is up to the transplant center to decide which patients are the best candidates for the organs.

Spokeswoman for Cedars-Sinai Sally Steward said that currently due to federal law she is unable to discuss Smith’s case. But she could say that marijuana users could be exposed to a type of mold that is known to cause fatal disease within patients who have compromised immune systems. There is also a risk of lung infection after the transplant occurs. “We do not make a moral or ethical judgment about people who are smoking medical marijuana,” she said. “Our concern is strictly for the health and safety of our patients.”

More than 16,000 people are currently on the list for liver transplants in the U.S. with the average wait time being approximately 300 days.

In regards to the Smith case, because he failed to show up for a random drug screening, he was removed from the list. Joe Elford is an attorney for the group Americans for Safe Access, which is a medical marijuana advocacy group has taken Smith’s case and is contemplating a lawsuit against the hospital.

Dr. Steven A. Miles who is Smith’s oncologist at Cedars refilled the prescription for medical marijuana due to back pain Smith suffered from previous back surgery.

Smith admits he did not follow the rules but he was trying to wean himself off of pain medications and was in severe pain.


Drug Testing News

New Drug Testing Policy for Cumberland School Students

For the next school year starting 2012-2013, Cumberland County Schools in Tennessee will be implementing a new drug testing policy. Last month the Cumberland County Board of Education voted on the policy, however state laws do prohibit the act of disciplining the students who provide positive drug tests.

Members of the board are concerned on whether or not drug testing will then be beneficial and effective.

The school system has a drug free policy already in affect that allows students to be tested upon suspicion of drug or alcohol use. The schools are allowed to search lockers, vehicles or students who are found with evidence of the present use of drugs and/or alcohol.

Under the drug free policy a student may choose not to take the drug test, which would then result in suspension from school and a hearing with the disciplinary authority.

If a negative test is produce, all paperwork, evidence and any other reasons will be destroyed.

A positive drug tests results in limited disciplinary action. A written notification of the positive test results are mailed to the parents and the student. They also have referral information for seeking outside help, such as treatment programs.

The 2nd District representative, Richard Janeway, said, “This isn’t an ‘I gotcha,’ but if we can get to someone in the early stages, we can get them help to get better.”

Under this new drug testing policy any students under the influence at school, on the buses, or any student away from the school who is participating in school-sponsored activities can be disciplined under the systems drug free policy. Also random drug testing will occur between all students who are involved with extracurricular activities.

The school board has decided to implement the drug testing for next year due to organizing budget costs for the drug tests.