Archive for April, 2012

NATIONAL TAKE-BACK INITIATIVE

Friday, April 27th, 2012

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

Americans that participated in the DEA’s third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 29, 2011, turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories. When the results of the three prior Take-Back Days are combined, the DEA, and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed 995,185 pounds (498.5 tons) of medication from circulation in the past 13 months.

“The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during the past three Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “DEA remains hard at work to establish just such a drug disposal process, and will continue to offer take-back opportunities until the proper regulations are in place.”

“With the continued support and hard work of our more than 3,945 state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners, these three events have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, and increased awareness of this critical public health issue,” said Leonhart.

Study finds drug testing saves companies over $700 per employee

Friday, April 27th, 2012

From the Australian Eye: A new study by Lab Testing Solution finds drug testing saves employers US$705 per year in workers compensation savings, lost productivity making drug screening a key risk mitigation strategy.

“Employee screening – that is, drug testing – is not only a risk mitigation strategy, employee screening is proven to improve employees’ productivity by 25% thereby helping them reach their full potential as an employee – contributing to their on-going job success. And, as it is said, a happy employee is a loyal employee – a benefit for both employer and employee in these turbulent economic times,” said a spokesperson for Lab Testing Solution.

The company says the study found an average of 10% of employees in workforces that are not in an employee screening program abuse drugs or alcohol; employees operate at about 75% of their full potential when they abuse drugs; and about 20% of health insurance benefits are paid to cover substance abuse-related claims. The company says the study reviewed employees that did not have any benefits paid for the year, and notes that an increase in actual savings per employee results when benefits claims are paid – a drug free workplace can help improve overall profit, added the spokesperson.

A Wake Up Call

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Watching the news recently, I saw an interesting statistic indicating that 53% of workers are unhappy at work. Many cite lack of career development as one of the major reasons. That should be a wake up call to any business or firm that cares about retaining its talent.

Motivated people crave opportunities to develop themselves and their career, yet they often don’t know what to do about it. One of the most important roles of a leader is to help employees find ways to develop themselves.

As a leader, you can’t be responsible for someone else’s happiness, but you can do much to create an environment that helps people thrive.

Some suggestions:
  • Reinforce what’s working well.
    Notice when a person on your team is performing exceptionally well, or even doing relatively better compared to past performance. Congratulate them on their success or improvement. A small acknowledgement can have a big impact.
  • Encourage new ways of working.
    Invite ideas and suggestions from the team on what can be done differently to create an ideal kind of environment at work. Fortunately you don’t have to figure it all out yourself.
  • Be inquisitive.
    If you notice a particular team member who consistently seems unhappy at work, don’t make assumptions about what you think is the cause. People are complicated and you just never know what’s going on inside. But you can ask questions to get the person talking. Opening a conversation may reveal clues about issues you can help influence.

Now, if you happen to be part of that “unhappy at work” statistic yourself, do something about it.Your leadership effectiveness and business results are at stake, not to mention other aspects of your life.

One leader I know was dwelling on his past,a long career in the financial services industry. He wondered if he was really reaping the rewards he should be given his age and experience. How do you know if you’re getting what you want and deserve?

It’s not unusual to have a bad day every now and then, but if you find yourself constantly stressed, dissatisfied, unfulfilled, overwhelmed, unrewarded, unmotivated, or longing for greener pastures, something needs to change.Maybe it’s your own wake up call.Answer the alarm.Don’t hit the snooze button and roll over.

Shoddy Background Check Could Cost You A Job

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Apply for a job and there’s a good chance that potential employer will do a background check on you. Most U.S. employers (about 70 percent) conduct criminal background checks for all potential employees.

 According to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, the information provided by background screening companies is often wrong in some way.

“These reports really should be accurate. Unfortunately, too often, what we found is, they’re not,” says Persis Yu, an NCLC staff attorney who worked on the “Broken Records”report.

Take the case of Samuel M. Jackson of Illinois, profiled in the report. Jackson was allegedly denied a job because of an inaccurate background check that said he was convicted of rape in 1987 – when he was just 4 years old. The conviction belonged to 58-year-old Samuel L. Jackson of Virginia, who was in prison at the time the background check was requested.

Virtually anyone with a computer and Internet service can go into the business of background screening. There is very little, if any, oversight.

“It’s really the Wild West out there,” Persis says. “They’re not required to be licensed. They’re not required to be registered. And yet they’re generating billions of dollars in revenue with very little accountability.”

The head of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) says the NCLC report makes some very broad statements that are not accurate. In an email statement to msnbc.com, Theresa Preg says background screening through Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA), such as those that are members of NAPBS have “a very, very low error rate.”

Preg says members of her organization are highly regulated at the state and federal level. She warns employers not to use “free” criminal record searches offered via the Internet because they have no updating requirement and therefore can have inaccurate information.

“The member companies of NAPBS help put millions of people to work, including ex-offenders,” she writes. “We also help consumers correct misinformation that may be contained on them at the actual courts or law enforcement agencies, as well as any incorrect criminal history information that may have been contained in a consumer report.

Read more

USDOT Announces National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners Final Rule

Friday, April 20th, 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced an important new safety rule that requires healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers to be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. The final rule also creates a national online database of medical examiners who have completed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) certification process.

“Safety is our top priority and requires cooperation from everyone involved, including our medical examiners,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “This new rule will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely.”

FMCSA developed the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule as part of the agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers, and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. The rule addresses four National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations on comprehensive training for medical examiners and tracking of driver medical certificates.

In 30 days, FMCSA will post its uniform training and testing standards for medical examiners at http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/. At that time, health care professionals, drivers, employers, law enforcement officers and the public can review the training standards and sign up to receive updates on the implementation of the rule.

By May 21, 2014, all certified medical examiners must be on the National Registry database, and drivers must obtain a medical examination from a certified examiner. Medical examiners who fail to maintain federal standards will be removed from the registry.

To allow time for testing and training centers to prepare their curricula and receive FMCSA approval, healthcare professionals seeking to become certified examiners can begin registering on the National Registry website this summer.

“Truck and bus drivers deserve highly-trained medical examiners that think safety first,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “By holding medical examiners accountable to high standards of practice, we raise the bar for safety and save lives through increased commercial driver and vehicle safety.”

Medical examiners perform approximately three million examinations on commercial truck and bus drivers each year. A Department of Transportation medical exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver’s medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing.

All commercial drivers must pass a Department of Transportation medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their commercial driver’s license and legally drive a commercial motor vehicle.

To learn more about the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule, visit http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

Sure Gel: Can Pectin Mask the Presence of Drugs in Urine?

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Recently, stories have reached the DAR program about the consumption of Sure Gel pectin solution as a means of masking THC in otherwise positive urine tests. Sure Gel, made up mostly of dextrose and fruit pectin, can be found in most American grocery stores. Sure Gel is a powder that easily dissolves in water. If mixed with modest amounts of water and allowed to dry, the emulsifying gel will become a substance that can be used to seal a jar of fruit preservatives for storage. Rumor has it that by adding Sure Gel to a gallon of water and drinking that water as quickly as can be tolerated, the solution will impede the release of THC into urine by somehow altering pH. Plenty of successful test-beaters have reported their triumphs using Sure Gel. But as many if not more have reported that the technique was useless, a waste of time and served as a dangerous recommendation to marijuana smokers who had serious interests in beating an upcoming drug test. In assessing the veracity of this claim, we believe that any success that is claimed by Sure Gel ingestion is due to the dilution of urine achieved when gallons of water are consumed before a test. In a case like that, collected urine will look obviously dilute, if not totally clear. By taking B vitamins, or niacin etc., someone using the Sure Gel technique can bring color back to what would otherwise be a clear case of dilution.

Some Sure Gel experimenters cautioned against the use of the substance in as much as they developed serious cases of constipation following their ingestion of the substance. In one instance, a Sure Gel user ended up in the emergency room with serious gastric distress. No information was offered as to whether or not he/she beat the drug test that prompted the effort.

At this juncture, claims about Sure Gel as a means of masking drugs in urine seems to be a case of much ado about nothing.

From MEDTOX Scientific.

Marijuana Withdrawal Syndrome

Friday, April 20th, 2012

From MEDTOX Scientific: For many years now, addiction professionals have proclaimed of a noticeable syndrome developing with users who suddenly stop smoking marijuana. A hallmark phenomenon that occurs with the use of powerful stimulant and depressant drugs, withdrawal syndrome is an uncomfortable and often painful experience that results from extended, chronic administration of a drug. Typically a withdrawal syndrome presents with symptoms that appear to be the exact opposite of an abused drug’s direct effects. Until recently, DSM-IV failed to include marijuana withdrawal as a syndrome worthy of diagnosis and treatment. But the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions examined a group of over 1100 regular marijuana users who did not binge drink or regularly use other drugs or narcotics. The respondents in the survey pointed to a marked set of symptoms that were experienced when they suddenly stopped the consumption of marijuana, the symptoms immediately resolved when marijuana use was restarted [1]. Withdrawal and abstinence syndrome symptoms are attributed to the action that THC and other cannabinoids have on sensitive receptors in the mid-brain. Cannabinoid receptors and relevant transmitters are not entirely understood but are known to influence serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and GABA in the brain.

Respondents to the marijuana withdrawal syndromes survey represented 44% of all those who admitted to regular use of marijuana. Those who responded to the survey reported three or more symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome. Two types of withdrawal symptoms emerged in the survey: somatic and psychological. Somatic-related symptoms of withdrawal included weakness, psychomotor retardation and sleep disturbances. Psychological symptoms included depression, hyper anxiety and panic disorder. Respondents who experienced personality disorders concurrent to the use of cannabis found that the underlying personality problem was exacerbated and more pronounced upon withdrawal from marijuana.

This study points to the difficulties that a substantial number of marijuana users have in trying to stop using the drug and/or in maintaining periods of sobriety or non-use. Not all marijuana users experience this syndrome when they try to quit, but this survey reveals that a very substantial minority does have to weather the symptoms and discomfort. Motivated addicts may find it very difficult to stop marijuana use and may need pharmacologic assistance in completing the task. Additionally, the research indicates that people seeking to stop marijuana abuse may switch to other drugs of abuse to ease the discomfort and pain of withdrawal. Authors and experts associated with this study argue for cannabis withdrawal syndrome inclusion in DSM-V.

For community corrections and rehabilitation professionals, marijuana abuse is no laughing matter. Ignoring use and abuse of marijuana as nothing more than a harmless vice is unwise, especially in light of still increasing purity in THC concentration of commercial grade marijuana sold on the street. Prior essays in the MEDTOX Journal have cast light on the profound effects that cannabis use has on the anatomy of the brain and the functioning of the limbic system. Marijuana abuse should be taken seriously by all professionals who work with those who smoke it. Efforts should be made to guide marijuana users to programs and experts who specialize in the treatment of that type of addiction and dependency.

[1] Hasin DS et al. Cannabis withdrawal in the United States: Results from NESARC. J Clin Psychiatry 2008 Sep; 69:1354.