Archive for October, 2011

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

DEA has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. to provide a venue for persons who want to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 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 a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.

DEA in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States conducted National Prescription Drug Take Back Days on Saturday, September 25, 2010 and April 25, 2011. Nearly, 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation participated in these events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills.

Four days after last fall’s Take-Back Day, Congress passed legislation amending the Controlled Substances Act to allow the DEA to develop a process for people to safely dispose of their prescription drugs. DEA immediately began developing this process after President Obama signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 on October 12. Until that process is complete, however, DEA will continue to hold Take Back Days every six months.

Small Businesses More Likely to Employ Drug or Alcohol Users

Monday, October 17th, 2011

TAMPA, Fla., Oct 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Small businesses may be at increased risk when it comes to hiring employees who abuse alcohol and drugs, according to USA Mobile Drug Testing ( ). Although the government encourages alcohol and drug-free workplaces, a large number of small businesses do not have the necessary policies or testing procedures in place to protect them against substance-abusing employees.

“The numbers are alarming. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nine of 10 small and medium-sized businesses employ heavy drinkers or drug users,” says Jeffrey Sardisco, COO of USA Mobile Drug Testing. “The SAMHSA study also found that 75 percent of illicit drug users were employed, primarily by small businesses.”

Sardisco says small and medium-sized businesses can avoid this by instituting drug testing programs and putting a drug-free workplace program in place. “Although business owners may think that starting a drug testing program is not possible because they fear the costs or lack the staff to manage it, in reality any business can put together an effective program,” he says.

New Technology Can Perform a Drug Test Using Fingerprints

Monday, October 10th, 2011

If you’ve ever watched CSI or a comparable detective or crime scene show, you know that fingerprints are the holy grail of everything, can be picked up as partials off of thin-air, are always found in AFIS and belong to a person of interest. You probably also know that most of that is just Hollywood magic, but thanks to new, real-life technology from Paul Yates and his colleagues at Intelligent Fingerprinting, fingerprints can now be used for drug testing. What’s more, the results are available in a matter of minutes.

As it turns out, if you are on drugs, you sweat out evidence in your fingerprints. Granted, you won’t be sweating out the actual drugs, but rather unique, broken-down by-products. The exact amounts are minuscule, but with this technology, that information can be used to determine if the finger’s owner has been using or is currently under the influence of drugs like nicotine, cannabis, cocaine and even methadone.

The new scanning technology works by coating the fingerprint residue with gold nanoparticles covered in antibodies. The antibodies will then stick to certain metabolites (byproducts of drugs, specifically) at which point a dye will highlight the metabolites the antibodies have singled out and bam, quick and easy drug testing.

Naturally, technology stands to absolutely revolutionize on-site drug testing practices much in the way the breathalyzer did. You leave fingerprints everywhere all the time, which would severely limits an individual’s ability to claim that they are private, which makes the test difficult to refuse. By the same logic, fingerprinting is decidedly less invasive than any other sobriety tests which currently involve playing Simon says, having a device stuck in your mouth or having a needle stuck in your arm, and it has a proven form of identification built right in. And all that is to say nothing of the ability to provide convenient, definitive, on-the-spot evidence of cannabis intoxication, something that is nigh-impossible with current technology.

The new tech was only recently announced at the ULC International Crime Science Conference last week and there’s little information to be had about the technologies mobility or price, but the potential applications are myriad. Better get on the straight and narrow right-quick, because as it turns out there’s a wealth of information in even a fleeting touch.

D.C. tops nation in drug, alcohol abuse

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Drug and alcohol abuse rates are higher in the District than anywhere else in the country, and experts say the wide availability of drugs, high stress levels and difficulties getting abusers into treatment fuel the city’s persistently stratospheric rates. A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 11.3 percent of people 12 and older abused or were dependent on alcohol or drugs in the past year, well above the national average of 8.9 percent. Maryland’s abuse rate was 8.1 percent and Virginia’s was 9.4 percent.

“You can find drugs in any quadrant of the city,” said George Wheeler, who runs Circles of Hope, an addiction counseling center.

The SAMHSA report is based on national drug surveys from 2008 and 2009 and interviews. It found the abuse rate in the District is down from 11.9 percent in 2002 and 2003 surveys. The most widely used drugs in the District are alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, according to the survey. In D.C., politicians, lobbyists and others regularly attend functions where “work is socializing,” said Babette Wise, director of the alcohol and drug abuse program at Georgetown University Hospital. That makes overindulging — including to the point of abuse — easy, Wise said. But because the drinking is tied to work, she said, it’s harder for them or others to recognize a problem.

“People will think, ‘How can my relative be an addict when he has this high position or she’s making all this money?’ ” Wise said.

Dr. Daniel Z. Lieberman, a psychiatry professor at George Washington University, said stress from those high-pressure careers and poverty can both lead to drug abuse — and D.C. has large populations that fall into those groups. In D.C., many people who need help aren’t getting it: 8.6 percent of city residents 12 and older are abusing or dependent on alcohol but not getting help, and 3.3 percent have drug addictions but aren’t in treatment, SAMHSA found. Those are among the highest rates in the country. The numbers include people who don’t know how to get help, don’t think they need it, can’t find treatment and can’t afford care, among other reasons, said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Lieberman said people often end up in the hospital after an addiction-related emergency, and long-term recovery is most successful if the person gets to a drug treatment center within a few days of leaving the hospital.

“That’s when their motivation is going to be highest,” he said. But Lieberman said that’s not always possible in D.C., and patients often end up waiting much longer or go a facility that isn’t their first choice.

Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, senior deputy director for the District’s Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, maintained that “anyone who walks through our doors can get help” and said there was no waiting list for treatment slots.

The District is training primary care doctors, mental-health-services providers and HIV treatment centers to screen people for alcohol and drug problems, Leonard said, because abusers often don’t seek help on their own.

Wise said 12-step programs are free and readily available in the District, with about 1,700 across the city, and the hardest part is getting an abuser to realize they need long-term support.

“That’s what’s going to keep them sober for life,” she said.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Jump in Hospitalizations for Drug and Alcohol Overdoses Among Young Adults

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Government researchers report a dramatic jump in the number of hospitalizations for overdoses caused by drugs and alcohol among 18- to 24-year olds.

The researchers, from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, found that between 1999 and 2008, hospitalizations among this age group rose by 25 percent for alcohol overdoses, 56 percent for drug overdoses and 76 percent for overdoses caused by a combination of drugs and alcohol.

One out of three hospitalizations for overdoses in young adults involved excessive alcohol consumption in 2008. Hospitalization rates for alcohol overdoses among young adults reached 29,000 cases in 2008. Combined drug and alcohol overdoses caused 29,000 hospitalizations, and drug overdoses caused 114,000.

Opioid overdoses are also a problem, the study found. The researchers saw a 122 percent jump in the rate of poisonings from prescription opioids and related narcotics among young adults. “The combination of alcohol with narcotic pain medications is particularly dangerous, because they both suppress activity in brain areas that regulate breathing and other vital functions,” researcher Aaron M. White, PhD, said in a news release.

The study is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

More Than Two Dozen Boeing Employees Arrested in Drug Sting

Monday, October 10th, 2011

SEP 29 – PHILADELPHIA – DEA and FBI agents today arrested employees and former employees of Boeing’s Ridley Park plant and one non-employee in a coordinated, long-term, undercover effort aimed at prescription drug abuse at the manufacturing plant, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Vito Guarino announced. Joining Acting SAC Guarino was United States Attorney Zane David Memeger and FBI Special Agent in Charge George Venizelos.

Indictments against 23 individuals were unsealed today charging each with the illegal distribution of a prescription drug. The drugs being distributed by these defendants include but are not limited to fentanyl (“Actiq”), oxycodone (“Oxycontin”), alprazolam (“Xanax”), and buprenorphine (“Suboxone). In addition to the indictments, 14 other defendants are charged by information with attempted possession of the various drugs being sold by their co-workers. This is a misdemeanor charge which is the reason they are not charged by indictment. The charges allege that each defendant either sold a controlled substance to an FBI cooperator or bought what was believed to be a controlled substance from the cooperator but which was, in fact, a placebo.

“The defendants in this case are accused of diverting controlled substances and selling them to alleged abusers without any medical supervision,” said Guarino. “These sales placed the individual abusers, as well as society at large, at risk. Part of DEA’s mission is to investigate the unlawful diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances and bring those involved to justice, whether it is a doctor, pharmacist, or street distributor.”

The drugs were being distributed on Boeing’s property. Boeing officials brought their suspicions of drug activity to federal law enforcement and have cooperated fully with the long-term investigation.

“This investigation and prosecution focused not only on the sellers, but also on the users because of the critical role that these employees play in manufacturing military aircraft,” said Memeger. “Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in our community, and this is just one example of how pervasive the problem is.”

“Drug abuse and the illegal sale and purchase of controlled substances are serious criminal problems in the U.S. today, and those who engage in the sale and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs will be targeted,” said Venizelos. “The abuse of prescription narcotic drugs can be as dangerous and devastating as the use of illegal drugs.”

You Have To Care

Monday, October 10th, 2011

“They won’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” I don’t know who said it, but it certainly rings true. If I asked your employees if you cared about them, what would they say? You might think, “Of course, I care about them! They know that.” But do they? The pressures most leaders are under can manifest in abrupt conversations, rushed delegation, and less face time. From the employee’s perspective, that can start to look like the work matters more than they do.

Over time, the interpersonal glue that holds an employee to a leader – and to a company – can start to disintegrate.

Here are some scenarios to think about. What would you do?

  • You are short of time and you are supposed to be introducing a new Human Resources policy to your team. It will affect how they schedule vacations. Do you forward the email from HR and tell your staff to come to you with questions, or do you discuss it with them?

Even though face time is at a premium, a dialogue is going to save you time and aggravation in the long run. You could make it an agenda item for your staff meeting.

  • Your team is pretty experienced and it’s a good thing. New projects are coming at your department faster than you can manage them all. People have been complaining about “being meeting-ed to death,” on these projects, so you decided to cancel your team’s staff meeting.

Whoa! This might be the worst time to cancel the one forum you have where the group can get together and discuss department problems, company happenings and collaborate on how the work gets done. Rather than cancel it, why not shorten it and focus it? Ask them how to make the staff meeting a truly value-added session that would help them manage their work.

  • You’re in meetings most of the day and you know you should probably get out more but you just don’t have time. Do you skip it and hope everyone understands? Do you walk through different areas when you get to work, so that you can informally chat with people? Do you set up an “open door” time, so that people know when they can come in and ask questions?

Setting up “open office hours” is an effective way many leaders make themselves available, but most people won’t want to bother you. And walking through different areas of the department is a quick way to at least be visible if someone wants to grab you for a quick question, but most people find it results in small talk (which is okay but not always productive).

But if you really want to use your time effectively, and make sure you are giving your key employees the direction and coaching they need, set up short, regular one-on-one sessions with them. If they know they have you all to themselves on a regular basis, they don’t need to interrupt you as often. And the quiet ones don’t end up feeling ignored or lost. It’s a great way to stay on top of what they are working on and also to build some reliability into your schedule.

  • You are the leader of a project team that includes a number of stakeholders from different departments. You have a lot of other projects and you are growing frustrated with the slow progress the group is making. You try to facilitate participative project meetings but the group seems resistant. Do you push through the solution you want? Do you take on more of the project work outside of the meetings, so something gets done? Or, do you go at their pace, in the hope they will start making more progress?

If you continue at their pace, your frustration is likely to show, which won’t help the group be open with you. Pushing through your own solution will probably backfire – feet dragging, or outright resistance and anger may result.

A better approach may be to put the issue on the table and talk about the slow progress. What are you seeing? Why are you frustrated? Do they need more directives from above? Do they need more information? What are they worried about or afraid of? An honest conversation may expose key elements that will help you break the log jam and get the project moving faster. If you don’t think the group will talk, schedule individual meetings with them and get their insight and advice. Bring your conclusions back to the group and discuss what to do about it.

You might be thinking, “I’m so busy I can’t schedule one-on-ones, or have staff meetings, or meet people to identify their resistance.” I recommend offloading other things, to make time for the things that will help your work go smoother and keep your employees happier. Time to look at what you can delegate…

Illicit Drug Use on the Rise

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2010 according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that 22.6 million Americans 12 or older (8.9-percent of the population) were current illicit drug users. The rate of use in 2010 was similar to the rate in 2009 (8.7-percent), but remained above the 2008 rate (8- percent).

An increased rate in the current use of marijuana seems to be one of the prime factors in the overall rise in illicit drug use. In 2010, 17.4 million Americans were current users of marijuana – compared to 14.4 million in 2007. This represents an increase in the rate of current marijuana use in the population 12 and older from 5.8-percent in 2007 to 6.9-percent in 2010.  Another disturbing trend is the continuing rise in the rate of current illicit drug use among young adults aged 18 to 25 — from 19.6-percent in 2008 to 21.2-percent in 2009 and 21.5-percent in 2010. This increase was also driven in large part by a rise in the rate of current marijuana use among this population.

The annual NSDUH survey, released by SAMHSA at the kickoff of the 22nd annual National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) observance also shows that use rates for nonmedical use of prescription drugs, hallucinogens and inhalants have remained at approximately the same levels as 2009, and are also similar to rates in 2002.

“We stand at a crossroads in our nation’s efforts to prevent substance abuse and addiction,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “These statistics represent real lives that are at risk from the harmful and sometimes devastating effects of illicit drug use. This nation cannot afford to risk losing more individuals, families and communities to illicit drugs or from other types of substance abuse — instead, we must do everything we can to effectively promote prevention, treatment and recovery programs across our country.”

“Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “In light of what we know regarding the serious harm of illegal drug use, I urge every family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”

Among the survey’s other noteworthy findings is that the majority (55-percent) of persons aged 12 and older who had used prescription pain relievers non-medically in the past 12 months received them from a friend or relative for free. Only 4.4-percent of those misusing pain relievers in the past year reported getting their supply from a drug dealer and 0.4-percent bought it on the Internet.

Despite some troubling trends, the 2010 NSDUH showed some areas of improvement in terms of lower use levels for certain substances. The number of current methamphetamine users decreased by roughly half from 2006 to 2010 — from 731,000 people age 12 and older (0.3-percent) to 353,000 (0.1-percent). Cocaine use has also declined, from 2.4 million current users in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010. In addition, among 12 – 17 year olds there were decreases between 2009 and 2010 in current drinking rates (from 14.7-percent down to 13.6-percent) and current tobacco use rates (from 11.6-percent to 10.7-percent).

As in previous years, the 2010 NSDUH shows a vast disparity between the number of people needing specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem and the number who actually receive it. According to the survey, 23.1 million Americans aged 12 or older (9.1-percent) needed specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem, but only 2.6 million (or roughly 11.2 percent of them) received it.

NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is the nation’s premier source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse behavioral health issues affecting the nation.

NRF: Most Retailers Rely on Background Checks

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Nearly all retailers use background checks to vet potential employees, according to the results of a National Retail Federation survey.

“As retailers across the country begin to hire hundreds of thousands of holiday employees, the National Retail Federation today released a survey that illustrates the importance of employee background screenings in keeping customers safe,” read an accompanying press release published on Tuesday. Responses from the survey, which was conducted in July, came from 96 executives from various retailers and showed that 97 percent of respondents used background screening sometime during the application process. “Pre-employment screenings are one of the tools retailers use as a first line of defense, especially during the holiday season when companies may have hundreds–if not thousands–of applications to sift through,” NRF senior asset protection advisor Joe LaRocca said. Most of the background checks (60 percent) examine records available from the last five to seven years. These records often include credit history, criminal records, motor vehicle records, and education records. The survey was released in part to show the importance of background checks to employers and to raise awareness of new guidelines being considered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would prevent businesses from asking potential employees about their criminal history during the application process.

Supporters of eliminating initial questions about criminal history, also called “banning the box,” because of the box on application forms that ask if a person has ever been convicted of a crime, say removing the question would allow a person a fair chance at proving that they are the best person for the job. LaRocca says the question is a necessary part of keeping customers safe. “A criminal history is not a scarlet letter for retail employment–in fact, retailers are able to overlook certain convictions based on position–but businesses need to understand who they are hiring right off the bat,” he said. “A convicted burglar shouldn’t be delivering pizzas to people’s homes and a person with multiple DUI convictions is not who you would want driving thousands of miles in a company vehicle. Understanding a potential employee’s prior work experience, education, customer service skills and criminal history helps retailers make intelligent hiring decisions for the ambassadors of their company brand and the safety of their customers.” The survey didn’t include data for how many of the companies had rejected potential employees because of information found during a background check.

Cleveland on Monday became the most recent city on a growing list of areas that have chosen to “ban the box.”

“By removing this question, applicants can be sure they will not be automatically excluded from consideration for a job because of their past mistakes,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a press release.

What happens if someone uses an old DOT form after November 30th?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

If the collector uses a non-Federal form or an expired CCF for the test, this flaw may be corrected through the procedure set forth in Sec. 40.205(b)(2), provided that the collection testing process has been conducted in accordance with the procedures of this part in an HHS-certified laboratory. During the period of October 1, 2010-November 30, 2011, you are not required to cancel a test because of the use of an old CCF. Beginning December 1, 2011, if the problem is not corrected, you must cancel the test.

How are drug test problems corrected?

If the problem is the use of a non-Federal form or an expired Federal form, you must provide a signed statement (i.e., a memorandum for the record). It must state that the incorrect form contains all the information needed for a valid DOT drug test, and that the incorrect form was used inadvertently or as the only means of conducting a test, in circumstances beyond your control. The statement must also list the steps you have taken to prevent future use of non-Federal forms or expired Federal forms for DOT tests. For this flaw to be corrected, the test of the specimen must have occurred at a HHS-certified laboratory where it was tested consistent with the requirements of this part.