Archive for March, 2011

More kids taken from addicted parents

Monday, March 28th, 2011

An increasing number of children are being removed from parents accused of using drugs in the Greater Cincinnati area.

There has been a 78 percent rise in two years of children taken from parents in Clermont County because of abuse or neglect, up from 132 in 2008 to 235 last year, said Tim Dick, deputy director of Clermont County Children’s Protective Services.

About 41 percent of last year’s cases involved drug abuse by parents. Of those 97 cases, 71 involved opiates such as heroin, Dick said. Marijuana was the second-most problematic drug. “Four years ago, cocaine was the drug of choice,” Dick said. “Opiates have overtaken that. Heroin is cheap, and it’s readily available.”

In Butler County, the number of children removed because of drug or alcohol abuse by a parent increased by 68 percent in two years, said Jeff Centers, director of Children Services. Last year, 264 kids were removed for such reasons, up from 219 in 2009 and 157 the year before.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that heroin is the most widely abused substance” in the Butler County cases, Centers said. “The second most abused drug is prescription medication.”

Hamilton County saw an 11 percent increase last year in the removal of children because of the drug-related activity of parents, with cases rising to 145 from 131 in 2009.

Drugs or alcohol were cited in about 19 percent of all cases in which children were removed, but “that number is really much higher,” said Brian Gregg, spokesman for the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services.

“We have about 850 foster children on any given day,” Gregg said. Sometimes, “we remove a kid because a mom is abusing him – and only after we begin work with the mom do we realize she has substance-abuse issues. … Anecdotally, it seems like the majority of our cases involve drug or alcohol abuse, and those cases seem to be on the rise.”

Study indicates alcohol and marijuana most commonly abused substances by those referred to treatment from probation or parole

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A new study shows that the most commonly abused substances among those 18 and older referred to substance abuse treatment from parole or probation was alcohol, followed by marijuana and methamphetamines. The study, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), also shows that more than half (59.2 percent) of those who entered substance abuse treatment based on referrals from probation or parole reported using more than one substance at admission.
In 2008, 42.8 percent of the admissions 18 or older that were referred to treatment by the criminal justice system were probation or parole referrals, making the probation and parole system the largest source of criminal justice referrals to substance abuse treatment. Among the study’s more notable findings concerning treatment admissions in 2008 involving adults on probation or parole:

· The most common substances being abused were alcohol (30.6 percent), marijuana (26.4 percent), and methamphetamines (15.6 percent).

· The majority of admissions were male (76.6 percent), had never married (63.1 percent), were between the ages of 18 and 44 (81.3 percent), and were non-Hispanic White (52.3 percent).

· Over one-third had less than a high school education (39.6 percent).

· The majority were unemployed (36.8 percent) or not in the labor force (26.2 percent). (Unemployed describes persons who do not have a job, are layed off and who have looked for work in the past 30 days. Not in the labor force describes persons who do not have a job and who are notlooking for work due to retirement, disability, going to school, taking care of the home/children, being in an institution, etc.)

· The majority had been in treatment at least once before (57.5 percent), and 18.4 percent reported three or more prior treatment episodes

ER Visits Related to “Ecstasy” Up 75 Percent from 2004 to 2008

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A new national study indicates that the number of hospital emergency visits involving the illicit drug Ecstasy increased from 10,220 in 2004 to 17,865 visits in 2008 – a 74.8 percent increase. According to this new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) most of these Ecstasy-related visits (69.3 percent) involved patients aged 18 to 29, but notably 17.9 percent involved adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Ecstasy use can produce psychedelic and stimulant side effects such as anxiety attacks, tachycardia, hypertension and hyperthermia. The variety and severity of adverse reactions associated with Ecstasy use can increase when the drug is used in combination with other substances of abuse — a common occurrence among Ecstasy users.

This SAMHSA study indicates that 77.8 percent of the emergency department visits involving Ecstasy use also involve the use of at least one or more other substances of abuse. Among Ecstasy-related emergency department cases involving patients aged 21 or older 39.7 percent of the patients had used Ecstasy with three or more other substances of abuse.

“The resurgence of Ecstasy use is cause for alarm that demands immediate attention and action,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “The aggressive prevention efforts being put into place by SAMHSA will help reduce use in states and communities, resulting in less costly emergency department visits related to drug use.”

NHTSA Proposes Rear-View Visibility Rule

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has invited comments on a proposed new rear-view visibility rule.

The proposed rear-view visibility rule would eliminate blind zones as part of a landmark effort to prevent cars from backing over pedestrians. On average, there are nearly 300 fatalities and 18,000 injuries a year. A disproportionate number are toddlers and the elderly. The NHTSA believes this rule can help save lives and prevent thousands of injuries every year.

The proposed rule follows the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, which directed NHTSA to amend rear-view visibility standards. One of the worst things about these back-over accidents is that it often involves parents backing up over their own children in the family driveway.

The act was named for Cameron Gulbransen, who was just 2 years old when his father, a pediatrician, got in his car, backed up, and killed his son.

Drowsy Driving

Monday, March 21st, 2011

According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, drowsy driving crashes injured more than 30,000 people. And, because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue causes a crash, the actual number may be higher.

Innovations introduced by the Federal Highway Administration have already helped. Continuous shoulder rumble strips and raised lane dividers alert drivers when their vehicles drift. Cable barriers reduce the risk of collisions.

And a new approach called Safety Edge  paves the edge of a road at an angle of 30 degrees instead of 90 degrees. This more gradual separation allows a driver whose car has drifted to steer the vehicle back onto the roadway more safely.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also entered into a cooperative agreement with a group of automakers to help develop vehicle-to-vehicle communications. With features like Forward Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Advanced Object Detection, vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems can alert drivers to potentially critical situations.

Designer Drug 2C-E Kills 1 and Sickens 10 Others

Monday, March 21st, 2011

From MedTox Scientific: The St. Paul Pioneer Express reported an incident involving the use of the hallucinogenic designer drug, 2C-E. Nicknamed “Europa” , 2C-E is an unregulated substance that is predominantly sold through European websites. The drug is a member of the psychedelic phenylethylamine family, a group of hallucinogenic substances that pack a wallop of an effect. In this case, a house party involving a group of teenagers and young adults featured 2C-E. It appeared that everyone in attendance had consumed the drug. Within a relatively short time following consumption of the drug, nearly everyone had became ill. Responding police and paramedics discovered the partygoers to be in varying degrees of distress. Emergency responders described the victims as being in altered states of consciousness. Some were described as being engaged by profound hallucinations. One 19 year old attendee was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Ten others who took the drug were also hospitalized, all are expected to recover.

While the facts of the case are all but clear, it appears that the Blaine partygoers may have believed that they were consuming a drug called 2C-I, a somewhat more mild hallucinogenic substance. In any event, there is limited data and information associated with the use of either drug. Dosing for these drugs is difficult to gauge, the effects unpredictable. A few descriptions of the effects of 2C-E have been reported on the Internet. Most users experience moderate to powerful hallucinogenic experiences. The effects seem to be exaggerations of the experiences described by LSD users. And like LSD, the effects of 2C-E (and 2C-I) are long lasting. Most highs extend somewhere between 6 and 12 hours in duration. “Bad trips” are reportedly tempered by the administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants. Physical symptoms of 2C-E ingestion include:
Dilated pupils, reactive to light.
Facial flushing, increased perspiration
Grimacing and grinding of teeth
Fast internal clock
Elevated pulse and increased respiration
Rapidly changing emotions (crying jags and excessive laughter)
Detachment from surroundings
DAR and DRE trained personnel will find that people under the influence of these drugs will exhibit classic symptoms of the hallucinogen category. Of note here is the tendency for the phenylethylamines to agitate and over stimulate users. In that regard, these drugs are similar in their effects to the amphetamines. In many respects, these two drugs are reincarnations of the Vietnam War era drug with mixed-properties known as DMT. Both these drugs are capable of rapid onset of symptoms. In some cases auditory disturbances have ensued within a minute or two of ingestion. 2C-E and 2C-I are usually found on the streets in the form of single scored white tablets the size of a common bottle aspirin. In some locales, the drugs can be found as fluffy white powder packaged in small plastic “dime” bags. The powdered drugs can be snorted or injected. There have been scattered reports of smoked 2C-E, but its molecular characteristics cause it to burn somewhat unevenly.

The legal status for these drugs is questionable. Although not explicitly banned by federal law, manufacture and sale of these drugs for human consumption is likely prosecutable under the auspices of analog statutes related to 2C-B, a related drug that is banned due to its placement on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.

Washington WorkersWait for Court Decision On Legal Marijuana Use

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Among the questions left unanswered by Washington’s medical-marijuana law: Can legal use of medical marijuana get you fired?

Thirteen years after voters approved its use, that question is likely to be answered by the Washington Supreme Court, which heard a test case on the issue last month.

It involves a woman fired by a Bremerton, Wash., call center in 2006 because she failed a pre-employment drug test but had a valid authorization from a doctor.

The woman, identified in court by the pseudonym Jane Roe, used marijuana at night to treat migraines. The call center, Teletech Customer Care, offered no evidence that the use impaired her ability to work.

Michael Subit, Jane Roe’s Seattle attorney, argued before the state high court that such use is implicitly protected because voters legalized it. “It would flabbergast the average voter to think, ‘I’ve been given this right but can fired for it anyway,’ ” he said.

Courts in other states, including Oregon and California, have ruled in favor of businesses in similar cases.

Washington business groups are watching the Jane Roe case closely, anxious that the court potentially could define medical-marijuana use as a disability and therefore protect patients from firing.

Read more:

FAA Unveils Alcohol, Drug-Testing Analysis

Monday, March 14th, 2011

From Aviation Week: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit March 1 set a March 10 deadline for FAA to show cause why it should not have to comply with a three-year-old court mandate for the regulatory analysis and why the court should not stay a portion of the expanded drug- and alcohol-testing rules.

FAA sent the regulatory analysis to the Federal Register for publication on March 3. The analysis will include a 60-day comment period, the agency says, adding that the final analysis would be prepared after the review of comments. The agency plans to brief the court of its actions on March 10.

The show-cause order was issued just two weeks after the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) requested that the appeals court issue a writ of mandamus, compelling the agency to comply with a 2007 directive to complete a final regulatory flexibility analysis (FRFA) on the expanded drug- and alcohol-testing rules.

FAA released the expanded rules in January 2006, calling the action a “clarification” of existing requirements. But ARSA objected to the expansion, saying it required employee testing for thousands of companies that had never been subject to FAA’s drug- and alcohol-testing rules. ARSA in March 2006 filed a lawsuit seeking a court review of the expanded requirements.

FAA prevailed in most of that case–the court in July 2007 upheld the testing requirements. But the court o also rdered FAA to complete an FRFA for the rules. FAA started the FRFA but did not conduct a full analysis, saying it applied only to a couple hundred businesses. ARSA, however, argued that the agency vastly underestimated the number of businesses affected. The court found the agency had not properly considered the impact of the rule on small businesses.

Until yesterday, however, the agency had not since produced an FRFA, leading to ARSA’s filing for a writ of mandamus, a command from a superior court to compel an entity to comply with a previous court determination.

The court responded to the request with an order calling for FAA to show cause why the court should not issue the writ and why it should not stay “the FAA drug and alcohol testing requirements insofar as they require drug and alcohol testing of subcontractor employees ‘at any tier.’”

Work Drug Tests Still OK Despite Medical Pot Laws

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

From Courthouse News Service: Private companies like Wal-Mart can fire Michigan employees who fail drug tests even though the state’s medical marijuana law might protect them from criminal prosecution, a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Mich., ruled.
Joseph Casias, who had passed Wal-Mart’s mandatory drug screening when he was hired in 2004, claimed he should not have been fired for failing another test mandated for workers who are injured on the job.
In dismissing Casias’ complaint, the court found that the Michigan Medical Marihuana (sic) Act does not prohibit private employers from taking disciplinary action against an employee for conduct that the act protects from criminal prosecution.

DEA Bans Synthetic THC Chemicals

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

From USA Today: The Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday banned for at least a year the chemicals used to make “K2” and “Spice,” popular smokeable herbs that mimic the marijuana high.

The DEA used its emergency power to control five chemicals used to coat the herbs. The DEA placed the chemicals into Schedule 1, the most restrictive category under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Schedule 1 drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

At least 18 states have banned the chemicals.