Testing It Up

Employees’ Opioid Use Wreaking Havoc with Companies

Abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin among employees is leading to lower productivity and higher turnover for companies where abuse is rampant, according to The Wall Street Journal.drug testing

Employers in Allen County, Ohio say up to a whopping 70% of job applicants are failing drug tests, according to Jed Metzger, President of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce. Employees in the greater Cincinnati area have tested positive for opioids after being involved in accidents, ranging from damaging property with heavy equipment to crashing company vehicles.

In addition to higher accident rates, employee opioid use can contribute to increased theft and absenteeism in the workplace, Trey Grayson, President of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said.

Although between 2003 and 2013, overall drug use among U.S. workers declined 18%, it actually rose for certain opioids, including Dilaudid and Vicodin, according to Quest Diagnostics numbers.

Companies are combatting employee opioid use by expanding drug testing, introducing zero-tolerance drug use policies and adding employee-assistance programs for workers who need addiction treatment.

October 14, 2014 at 8:53 am Comments (0)

New Drug Shows Promise in Fight Against Addiction

A new drug has been developed that could potentially help people kick their drug addictions. cocaine addiction

Developed by Dr. Stanley Glick, former head of the Department of Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College, 18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC) has been successful in getting rats who are hooked on cocaine to completely stop craving the drug.

It has a similar effect on animals addicted to methamphetamine, morphine, alcohol, and nicotine and even seems to work with sugar, indicating potential as an obesity treatment.

“We hope it’s a paradigm shift in the way substance abuse is treated,” Steve Hurst, CEO of Savant HWP, which produces 18-MC, said. “But we’re still trying to figure out if it’s OK to give to people in doses that are safe enough to replicate what we see in animal models.”

18-MC works by blocking the pleasurable effects of cocaine and other substances by “dampening the response” to dopamine.

18-MC has its roots in ibogaine, a bitter white powder derived from the roots of a plant indigenous to the rainforests of Central Africa. Ibogaine is a potent hallucinogen used to induce spiritual visions during tribal ceremonies. Although side effects of ibogaine include nausea and intense hallucinations, Glick and other researchers have managed to formulate a strain of the drug that has the ability to block cravings while not producing any of the side effects.

The drug is ready to start human trials, but because ibogaine is a Schedule I drug in the United States and few pharmaceutical companies are interested in anti-addiction medicine, it has faced a lot of hurdles in its development.

October 14, 2014 at 8:37 am Comments (0)

Binge Drinking Causes Protein Changes that Increase Risk of Liver Diseases

Several studies have already spotlighted excessive alcohol consumption as a leading cause of liver damage, but a new study reveals that binge drinking makes the damage worse.

binge drinking u.s. liver damageAccording to a study by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, binge drinking causes changes in protein structures in the liver, leading to a higher risk of liver diseases. Study lead author Shivendra Shukla said that heavy episodic drinking heightens the damage that long-term alcoholism is already doing to the liver.

The study proponents discovered that binge drinking causes changes in the DNA structure not related to heredity or genetics. The “epigenetic” changes are experienced by protein DNA organizers — or histones — that become messed up because of the abnormal rise in alcohol toxicity. “Binge drinking is an environmental trigger that negatively affects histones by altering the correct binding of DNA. The result is unnecessary replication in the copied structure. This initially causes inflammation and damage to the cells as they form, but it is also eventually the cause of more serious diseases such as cirrhosis and cancer,” Shukla said in a news item.

Shukla adds that the changes in histones are not limited to the liver. “Binge drinking can create an inflammatory response in the liver that is like a cluster bomb, sending out various damaging signals to other organ systems in the body. If those organs are working at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes are affected as a consequence of binge drinking,” the lead author expressed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers binge drinking as a very costly health issue. In 2011, the cost of binge drinking in the U.S. was estimated at $223 billion annually, primarily due to health care expenses and decrease in productivity at work.

October 12, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Top Cigarette Companies Issue Health Warnings on E-Cigarette Products

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: tobacco manufacturers warning their clients about the hazards of nicotine.

electronic cigaretteThe New York Times recently released a story about several cigarette companies issuing strong warnings about the adverse health effects — of e-cigarettes. Tobacco manufacturer Altria, which produces the popular Marlboro brand of cigarettes, has placed a comprehensive statement of health hazards on the packaging label of its MarkTen e-cigarettes. Here are some of the provisions in the product alert:

  • “This product is not a smoking cessations product and has not been tested as such.”
  • It cannot be used by “children, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, or persons with or at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or taking medicine for depression or asthma.”
  • “Nicotine is addictive and habit forming, and it is very toxic by inhalation, in contact with the skin, or if swallowed.”

The warning goes on to detail the various dangers of nicotine on human health: “can increase your heart rate and blood pressure and cause dizziness, nausea, and stomach pain.”

Stanford School of Medicine professor Dr. Robert K. Jackler believes that the product warning was issued for reasons other than keeping the e-cigarette customer’s health in check. “Is this part of a noble effort for the betterment of public health, or a cynical business strategy? I suspect the latter,” Jackler stated.

The idea of electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation method has been disproven by a recent study that said these products don’t help cancer patients quit the vice.

September 28, 2014 at 7:46 pm Comment (1)

September is National Recovery Month

Recovery from addiction is a very challenging terrain that many people are facing. It’s a daily battle of making the right choices and fleeing away from old ways.

september national recovery monthThis is the main reason why the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) is joining many organizations in declaring September as National Recovery Month. This annual observance aims to highlight the importance of support and understanding for people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Marijuana remains one of the most common drugs that many Americans are addicted to. According to data reported by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 78 percent of teenagers are exposed to people who use marijuana on a regular basis. What’s worse is that 90 percent of most addictions begin as children reach their adolescent years. That is why the fight for drug and alcohol intervention is being raised by several groups including NCADD.

National Recovery Month is sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, an arm of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

If you want to support the cause, you may send your donations through this link from DrugFree.org. You may also read more information about the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids campaign.

[ Image source ]

September 18, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Development For Portable Bath Salts Drug Test Kits Under Way

The war on drugs has just been given a major boost through a recent study involving the development of better test kits for bath salts detection.

bath saltsA news release from the America Chemical Society revealed that scientists are currently developing a portable drug test kit to detect bath salts. The illicit drug has been declared illegal in the U.S., but many retail shops and online stores are still carrying the controversial substance on their shelves. This new drug testing technology aims to provide a more convenient way to identify the use of bath salts.

While existing testing technologies that detect bath salts are already available, the equipment used in these tests are difficult to transport and carry around. One bath salt test equipment was developed for field use, but it made use of a mercury electrode, which is dangerous to human health.

The team of scientists led by Craig Banks is trying to develop a safe and convenient drug testing kit to identify bath salts. Their initial prototypes resulted in a testing method that is not only safe and easy to handle, but is also disposable, fast, and affordable. The team hopes that their discovery could be installed in modern handheld devices for better detection of bath salt compounds.

Bath salts are composed of synthetic cathinones derived from the khat plant that is abundant in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The compounds in bath salts create a euphoric feeling, which may later regress to hallucinations, seizures, and even death.

September 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm Comment (1)

Children of Dads Who Smoked Pre-Conception More Likely to Have Asthma: Study

Children are more likely to have asthma if their fathers smoked prior to conceiving them, a new German study has found. kid with asthma

The research looked at the smoking habits of 13,000 men and women who responded to survey questions, including whether they have smoked, when and for how long. They also indicated whether they stopped smoking before conceiving, according to a news release about the study, which found fathers who smoked prior to conception raised the chances of their unborn children having asthma. Fathers who had been smoking longer and fathers who began smoking before 15 were more likely to have babies born with asthma.

Mothers smoking prior to conception was not associated with increased asthma risk among the women in the survey.

It isn’t exactly clear how smoking before conception could cause asthma, but air pollution is certainly a factor, the authors said.

“This study is important as it is the first study looking at how a father’s smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children,” said one of the study authors, Dr. Cecile Svanes, of the University of Bergen, Norway, in a statement. “Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect.”

Asthma is a condition that causes the airways to swell, leading to labored breathing and tightness around the lungs. At least 25 million Americans have asthma, and 7 million of them are children, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

 

September 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm Comments (0)

Prescription Drug Fatalities Drop In Medical Marijuana States

Is medical marijuana the key to addressing prescription drug abuse deaths? A study conducted by a professor from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seems to conclude so.

prescription drug overdoseDr. Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Health Policy and Management, released a team study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that links lower deaths due to prescription drug abuse in states that legalize medical marijuana. “As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal,” Barry said in a news item.

The study revealed that states where medical pot has been legalized posted a 25 percent lower mortality rate due to prescription medication overdose. The research used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between the years 1999 and 2010, which showed that the rate of fatalities arising from opioid painkiller abuse shot up within that particular time frame.

Study lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber from the University of Pennsylvania shared the details of the research results. “In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed.”

Meanwhile, the study’s proponents urged for more studies related to this topic, noting that there is a need to determine the long-term effects of medical marijuana in “both overdose deaths and the health trajectories of individuals suffering from chronic pain.”

August 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm Comment (1)

Government Tightens Restrictions on Commonly Abused Prescription Drug

Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st, the federal government tightened restrictions on the prescribing of hydrocodone,  the most common form of painkiller in the country.prescription drug abuse

Hydrocodone, is the most widely prescribed painkiller in the United States and is an ingredient in drugs like Vicodin.

The rule places hydrocodone in a tougher, more restrictive category. Doctors will no longer be able to call in prescriptions by telephone, and patients will not be allowed to get refills on the same prescription, but will have to return to a health care professional to get a new prescription. The drug will have to be kept in special vaults in pharmacies.

The Drug Enforcement Administration published the rule on Thursday and it will take effect in 45 days.

“This is substantial,” said Dr. Nathaniel Katz, assistant professor of anesthesia at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. “It’s a sign of a shift toward more cautious opioid prescribing. This will be an inconvenience to some, but policy is a machete, not a scalpel, and you have to figure out where to use it. I think people will be more helped than harmed.”

Abuse of painkillers now claims the lives of more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined, according to federal data, and the number of Americans who die from prescription drug overdoses has more than tripled since the late 1990s.

August 27, 2014 at 10:22 am Comments (0)

Study: Cigarettes With Reduced Nicotine Don’t Lead To More Smoking

Amidst an early hypothesis that reducing the nicotine level in cigarettes could lead smokers to puff more sticks, a new study claims that it does not.

smokingAccording to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, people who smoke reduced-nicotine cigarettes did not increase the number of sticks that they consume. Research co-author David Hammond said that the participants of the study did not change their smoking habits as a result of the lower nicotine amount. “Our study suggests that smokers are unable or unwilling to compensate when there is markedly less nicotine in the cigarette and when the experience of smoking is far less rewarding,” Hammond said in a news release.

More than 70 people took part in the study, which required participants to be between the ages of 18 and 65, smoke not less that 5 cigarettes daily, and who don’t intend to stop smoking anytime soon. While regular cigarettes produce a nicotine emission level of 1.2 milligrams using nicotine and tobacco testing kits, the reduced-nicotine cigarettes contained as low as 0.05 mg.

The study proponents believe that the study could help the government establish tobacco policies and improve existing smoking ordinances to reduce the nicotine intake of smokers. “Our study may help regulators anticipate the possible consequences of mandatory nicotine reductions in cigarettes,” Hammond added.

August 25, 2014 at 12:53 am Comments (0)

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