Archive for April, 2011

What problems always cause a DOT drug test to be cancelled?

Friday, April 29th, 2011

When the laboratory discovers a “fatal flaw” during its processing of incoming specimens the laboratory will report that the specimen has been “Rejected for Testing” (with the reason stated).  The MRO must always cancel such a test.

The following are “fatal flaws”:
(1) There is no printed collector’s name and no collector’s signature;
(2) The specimen ID numbers on the specimen bottle and the CCF do not match;
(3) The specimen bottle seal is broken or shows evidence of tampering (and a split specimen cannot be redesignated); and
(4) Because of leakage or other causes, there is an insufficient amount of urine in the primary specimen bottle for analysis and the specimens cannot be redesignated.

New Reports Highlight Drug-Related Statistics in Key Metropolitan Areas

Friday, April 29th, 2011

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a series of Metro Briefs providing detailed statistical snapshots of drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments occurring in 11 metropolitan areas across the nation. This series of briefs is based on SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a public health surveillance system which collects data from nationally representative emergency departments participating in the program.

Each brief provides a wide range of information about the nature and scope of drug-related admissions in a metropolitan area through a variety of charts, graphs and accompanying text. This information includes:
•Comparative data on the level of drug-related emergency department visits occurring within the metropolitan area and the nation as a whole
•Key demographic patient characteristics such as gender and age
•Breakdowns on the substances of abuse involved in the emergency department visits
•Information on the levels of emergency department visits involving drug- related suicide attempts
•Data on emergency department visits involving underage drinking
These briefs were developed by SAMHSA as part of its strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality an effort to create integrated data systems that help inform policy makers and providers on behavioral health issues.

The briefs are available on the web at http://www.samhsa.gov/statesinbrief/.

New Jersey Sets Deadline for Storeowners to Surrender Bath Salts

Friday, April 29th, 2011

New Jersey’s attorney general has told storeowners who are selling synthetic drugs, known as bath salts, that they have 10 days to voluntarily surrender the drugs or they will face criminal penalties, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bath salts, sold under names including “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky,” were put on New Jersey’s Controlled Dangerous Substance list this week. They are most commonly sold in smoke shops and gas stations.

Attorney General Paula Dow announced that by May 18 store owners who sell bath salts must either surrender them or face possible arrest on charges of distribution, sale or possession of drugs. They could face three to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000.

Bath salts can cause effects including hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia, as well as greatly increased blood pressure and heart rate, Ms. Dow said.

FAA Announces Additional Actions as Part of Air Traffic Control Review

Friday, April 29th, 2011

WASHINGTON – Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt announced additional management changes and other actions today as part of the FAA’s comprehensive review of the air traffic control system.
Three veteran FAA managers will be repositioned to assume oversight of critical air traffic roles:
• Walt Cochran will oversee Terminal Operations, where he will be responsible for all of the Agency’s airport towers and TRACONS (approach and departure control).
• Chris Metts will oversee all of the Agency’s En Route and Oceanic operations.
• Glen Martin will become the Air Traffic Manager at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center. He is currently the deputy air traffic manager at Chicago Center.
The FAA is also assessing key mid-level management positions to ensure that both technical and leadership expectations are being met.
Teams of FAA experts are also examining some of the agency’s more complex facilities, including Cleveland and New York Centers, in an effort to make certain that operational policies and professional standards are being upheld.
“We are continuing to do everything in our power to ensure that our nation’s aviation system remains the safest in the world. This is just the beginning of the process to make sure we have the best possible team in place,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“The FAA’s focus is safety. These changes ensure that we have the right people in the right places to help us carry out our mission,” said FAA Administrator Babbitt. “I am confident our top-to-bottom review is making our air traffic system even safer.”
Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt announced earlier this month that the FAA would place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at air traffic control towers and facilities around the country that were staffed with only one controller during that time.
Three controllers in Knoxville, Miami and Seattle were fired for sleeping while working an operational position. These employees have a due process right to respond to these actions.
Additionally, the FAA instituted changes to air traffic controller scheduling practices that will allow controllers more time for rest between shifts. The FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) are continuing to work together on additional changes that will help reduce controller fatigue, including a fatigue education program.
On Friday, the FAA also announced the members of an independent review panel that will evaluate the agency’s air traffic control training curriculum, qualifications and placement process to make sure new controllers are properly prepared. The members of the panel are: Michael Barr, University of Southern California Aviation, Safety & Security program; Tim Brady, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; Garth Koleszar, NATCA; Michael New, United Airlines; and Julia Pounds, FAA. The panel will submit a report to FAA Administrator Babbitt this fall.
The in-depth look at air traffic controller training is part of the FAA – NATCA Call to Action on air traffic control safety and professionalism. Administrator Babbitt, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and members of their leadership teams have been visiting air traffic facilities around the country to reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards.
During the Call to Action, FAA and NATCA teams have so far visited air traffic personnel and facilities in and around: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Columbus; Dallas–Ft. Worth; Denver; Kansas City; Knoxville; Lincoln; Louisville; Miami; Minneapolis; New York; Oklahoma City; Oakland; Omaha; Reno; Sacramento; and Salt Lake City.

Kratom Use Is on the Rise

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

From Medtox Scientific: The DARS Journal has reported on the emergence of Kratom as an abused substance. Kratom is a medicinal plant that is grown and harvested in Southeast Asia. Thailand and Malaysia are principle sources for this drug; Bali is the genesis for the most potent Kratom in the world. Processed like marijuana, Kratom leaves are plucked and then dried before being prepared as a powder or oily resin. Kratom crushed leaves or powder can be prepared as a tea or warm beverage, or can also be in capsule form. The drug can be sour tasting, and as a result, Kratom tea drinkers must add flavoring to the beverage to offset the bitterness. The effects of Kratom are dose dependent; with 3 to 5 grams of crushed Kratom leaf (or ½ teaspoon of Kratom 15X powdered extract) needed to get high. Some Kratom users choose to smoke the crushed leaf material in a hand-rolled cigarette. Burning Kratom smells similar to burning marijuana. A Kratom high will last some 2-3 hours with the euphoric effects coming in waves. The initial effects from Kratom are exhilarating and motivational; a later phase is more sedating and relaxing. The drug has qualities as a social lubricant. Some users cite Kratom as having aphrodisiac powers as well.

The effects described as relaxing, anxiety reducing, and euphoric are most likely attributable to Kratom’s activity at the delta and mu opiate receptors. In fact, there are anecdotal reports from many users that Kratom is an effective therapy for treating the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Many users have successfully weaned themselves off of prescription opiates through the use of Kratom. It stands to reason however that if Kratom is effective in ameliorating the effects of opiate withdrawal, then it is likely to cause opiate dependency if it is used over an extended period of time. Although there have been sporadic reports of users who have developed Kratom addictions, it is unclear whether or not true opioid mediated dependencies have occurred.

Like Salvia divinorum, Kratom is considered a dietary supplement. It is not a controlled substance; it is legal to possess. Head shops and Internet Kratom stores are experiencing brisk sales of its various Kratom products. Kratom is exhibitive of an emerging trend that transcends methods of modern toxicological monitoring. Kratom has been around for nearly 10 years, but only in the last year or two has it attracted widespread attention. With the emergence of K2 and Spice, bath salts, and plant food as drugs of abuse, Kratom’s popularity has surged. And because it is viewed as a legal, safer alternative to other more caustic designer drugs, Kratom use will continue to grow and spread.

Nationwide Take-Back Prescription Drugs Day

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

On Saturday, April 30th, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, DEA and its community partners will hold the second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day at sites throughout the United States. This will be an opportunity for the public to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for safe disposal. Long-term care facilities are also invited to participate in the National Take Back Day. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
More Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Studies show that individuals that abuse prescription drugs often obtained them from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away and are both potential safety and health hazards.

Visit any of the following sites to learn more about the Take-Back initiative:

– http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr041911ap.html
– http://www.nationaltakebackday.com/toolbox/index.php
– http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc

More Bad News for Marijuana Smokers

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

From MEDTOX Scientific: Another peer-reviewed study has been released that casts more critical attention on the roll of cannabis in the aggravation of psychosis. The research further confirms that chronic marijuana use can lead to classic drug dependency and a prolonged, angst tinged abstinence syndrome. Researchers in the Netherlands led this study that analyzed some 1092 psychotic patients, 1057 of their siblings, and 590 controls that had no personal or family psychiatric history[1].

Siblings who used marijuana were 10 times more likely than their non-using siblings (controls) to exhibit symptoms of psychiatric. In this case, non-psychotic marijuana smokers developed symptoms of psychosis that were similar to family members who were associated with psychiatric histories. The symptoms exhibited by the marijuana smokers did not rise to the level of undisguised psychosis, but they did rise to a level of disorder that fits into the psychotic spectrum. The message here is that people with a family history of psychosis should be warned that marijuana use might exacerbate or trigger latent symptoms of mental illness. It is possible that cannabis tinkers with dopaminergic systems that may be susceptible to dysregulation in families with a history of mental illness. People in such situations should be sensitive to the effects of marijuana on mental health.

This research is interesting because many marijuana users suggest that THC calms or turns down the noise in their brains associated with stress and fatigue. It may be that for some users that cannabis is actually antagonizing and accelerating the destabilization of neurotransmitter systems in the brain. Cannabis may quite clearly be a triggering event to a future sequence of psychotic incidents. Pot smoking is looking less and less like a new world medicine.

Synthetic Drugs Cause Alarming Increase in Medical Emergencies

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Synthetic drugs continue to be a big problem. This from drugfree.org:

Synthetic drugs—substances that mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs—are causing a sharp rise in serious health problems ranging from seizures and hallucinations to death. The Associated Press (AP) reports that synthetic drugs, often sold as incense or bath salts, can be bought for as little as $10 in head shops. Hospitals are seeing a rapid increase in synthetic drug users with problems including breathing problems, rapid heartbeats, delusions and extreme paranoia.

Figures from the American Association of Poison Control Centers show at least 2,700 people have gotten sick from synthetic drugs since January, compared with fewer than 3,200 in all of 2010. At that rate, medical emergencies stemming from synthetic drugs could rise nearly fivefold by the end of 2011, according to the AP. The drugs are suspected in at least nine deaths in the U.S. since last year.

One of the most popular synthetic drugs, bath salts, are crystallized chemicals that users snort, swallow or smoke. The two powerful stimulants in the salts mimic cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. In the first three months of 2011, poison control centers received more than 1,400 calls for bath salts, compared with 301 in all of 2010.

National Study Confirms Teen Drug Use Trending in Wrong Direction

Friday, April 15th, 2011

From Drugfee.org: Following a decade of steady declines, a new national study released today indicates that teen drug and alcohol use is headed in the wrong direction, with marked increases in teen use of marijuana and Ecstasy over the past three years. The 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) affirms a disturbing trend that has emerged among American teens since 2008 and highlights that as underage drinking becomes more normalized among adolescents, parents feel unable to respond to the negative shifts in teen drug and alcohol use. The study was released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation.

According to the three-year trend confirmed in this year’s 2010 PATS data, there was a significant 67 percent increase in the number of teens who reported using Ecstasy in the past year (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2010). Similarly, past-year marijuana use among teens increased by a disturbing 22 percent (from 32 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2010).

Statement From FAA Administrator Babbitt

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

April 14, 2011
Contact: FAA Press Office
Phone: 202-267-3883
________________________________________
Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety. This conduct must stop immediately. I am committed to maintaining the highest level of public confidence and that begins with strong leadership.

This morning I met with the head of our Air Traffic Organization, the part of the Federal Aviation Administration charged with operating our air traffic control system. Hank Krakowski has submitted his resignation and I have accepted it. Hank is a dedicated aviation professional and I thank him for his service. Starting today, I have asked David Grizzle, FAA’s chief counsel, to assume the role of acting ATO chief operating officer while we conduct a nationwide search to permanently fill the position.

We are conducting a top to bottom review of the way we operate our air traffic control system. We are all responsible and accountable for safety–from senior FAA leadership to the controller in the tower. Employees at the FAA work diligently every day to run the safest air transportation system in the world. But I will continue to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure we concentrate on keeping the traveling public safe.