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.
A 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.
This is because even though drug use is about equal between white and black people, the common perception is that black people abuse drugs much more than their white counterparts, freelance writer Max Taves says. Workplace drug testing shows this misconception to be false, enabling black men to get higher paying jobs more frequently.
Taves wrote an article about the study, which was done by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“It’s a counterintuitive study. The economist who wrote this kind of knew going into it and wanted to test it,” Taves told the Huffington Post. “What it means is that companies’ information, their perception of African-Americans employees relative to white employees and drug use is wrong.”
Fourteen states, mostly in the South and Midwest, adopted laws back in the 1980s to enforce testing by offering legal and financial incentives to companies that test current and prospective employees. Seven states, mostly in the Northeast and West, developed laws to explicitly limit testing while 29 states made little or no significant changes.
Notre Dame University economist Abigail Wozniak studied the impact of those laws on African-American employment between 1980 and 2010 and found that low-skilled black men were significantly impacted by the pro-drug test laws. Their wages in states that tested rose 12% more than black employees in states opposed to testing and 4% more than in the “neutral” states.
The overall employment rate of black men in pro-testing states didn’t change, Wozniak said, but black men were able to get better jobs because of it. The firms most likely to test employees are bigger, pay better and offer more benefits than firms that don’t test.
“These pro-testing firms hired more blacks and paid more,” said Wozniak.
Once the companies realized their perception about hiring black employees was incorrect — proven to them by drug testing — they felt more confident hiring black employees.
The field of drug testing has been receiving a lot of flak from the public eye. Some of the bad publicity involving drug testing and drug test kits include lack of accuracy, as well as selective drug identification.
In addition to this, any person undergoing a drug test is at a risk of public ridicule and persecution once the results come out. Because many drug test kits can provide accurate results, people subjected to the tests — especially when administered randomly and in mandatory fashion — are likely to feel bad about themselves or get discriminated upon.
The folks at Test Country have listed a number of myths surrounding drug testing technology, and the realities behind them. Here are some of the highlights of the feature article:
- Two successive drug tests do not confirm an earlier result. Instead, the drug testing technique must be replaced with a more accurate method.
- Synthetic opiates cannot be confirmed through a regular opiate screening test. These kinds of substances require special drug test kits for better detection.
- Being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke may yield positive results for THC, but the numbers will not be at the same magnitude as in samples taken from pot-smoking individuals.
- Even if taken simultaneously, urine and oral samples may yield different drug test results. This is due to the fact that drugs in urine stay longer than those in saliva.
For more debunked myths and further information about drug testing technologies, read the feature on Test Country.
Now that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use and many other states have legalized it for medicinal use, company drug policies need to be updated so there are no grey areas when it comes to the drug, the article says.
Companies should follow these steps to make sure they are protected against the possibility of employees believing it is okay to come to work high on marijuana:
1. Add consequences for the use of marijuana at work.
2. Don’t completely prohibit the use of marijuana at all times.
3. Be sure to include marijuana in any drug-testing policy.
4. Make safety a priority.
To read the entire article, click here.
Marijuana used to be at the very top of the list of drugs to test for in the workplace. It was virtually impossible to find a drug test that tested for any combination of the major abused drugs and not have marijuana included.
But, now that Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana, drug tests that detect all the major drugs except marijuana are starting to pop up.
For example, there is one product named Multi Drug 4 Panel Urine Dipstrip Test that tests for all other relevant drugs like cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and amphetamine, but does not test for marijuana/THC. These tests are convenient for workplaces that want to have a workplace drug testing policy, but that do not want to risk having an employee test positive for a substance that is currently legal within the state.
Fountain said he sees about two patients per year die from complications due to epilepsy while new, potentially life-saving treatments are stalled in the long, arduous process of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the two organizations that have to provide final regulatory approval of new medicines.
Fountain said there is no time limit on the scheduling process, which is in place to help prevent drugs with the potential for abuse from getting into the wrong hands while ensuring patients who need them have access to them. But the time it takes for drugs to get approved by the DEA has progressively gotten longer after they receive approval by the FDA. The amount of time has gone from 49 days in the period of 1997-1999 to 237 days in the period 2009-2013 according to a published analysis. This is an average of nearly eight months; and sometimes it takes more than a year for approval.
Fountain has joined with the Epilepsy Foundation in support of the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (H.R. 4299), which would provide needed clarity and predictability to the DEA review process and help ensure innovative treatment options are made available to patients who need them by setting a 45-day deadline for the DEA to schedule new medicines as recommended by the FDA.
“This problem applies to all drugs reviewed by the DEA and particularly for conditions that are in urgent need of avoiding unnecessary delays,” Fountain said.
People will go to great lengths to beat a drug test if they have been abusing a substance. From paying exorbitant prices for useless body cleanses to purchasing prosthetic penises and synthetic urine, the range of items to cheat on a drug test are as varied as they are entertaining to read about.
Pat Pizzo, head of toxicology at Alera Toxicology, recently gave a webinar on the various drug cheating methods and what testers need to be on the lookout for and what they need to do to counteract cheating.
Some highlights from the webinar include:
- The majority of “cleansing” teas and other products are useless because these products are either just diuretics or only work if the person drinks a lot of the liquid, which would be the same as drinking a lot of plain water.
- People who drink excessive amounts of liquids will also take B Vitamins to turn their clear urine back to yellow.
- Testing for creatinine levels and specific gravity will detect diluted samples, even if the color is yellow.
- Most — but not all — items that people add to urine to cheat a drug test are easily detectable.
- Most devices that people wear to hold clean urine to avoid giving their own will have some way of heating that urine to body temperature like heating pads, hand warmers or a plastic wedge to be clenched between the buttocks.
- Bleaching the hair strips melanin from the hair and thus strips traces of drugs from the hair, too.
- Shampoos alone will not strip drug traces from the hair.
- People can purchase special mouthwashes and gum for beating an oral fluid test, but it is not clear if these items work.
To see the full coverage of the webinar, click here.
Drug testing in the workplace can face stiff opposition — mainly from labor unions and human rights activists — because incorrect implementation can violate the privacy of workers.
Zeynep Iglaz, co-founder of TestCountry, recently shared some tips on how to effectively implement workplace drug testing. In her article for Under30CEO, she expounds on the advantages of implementing a company-wide drug testing program, as well as advice on how to carry out the program.
Highlights of the tips include:
- Customize your policy
- Put it all on paper
- Communicate with your employees
For further details on implementation of drug testing policies in the workplace, read Ilgaz’s article at Under30CEO.
Bill Current, who is president of WFC & Associates, LLC, says the three biggest issues on the horizon for corporate drug testing are the continued march of marijuana legalization for both medical and recreational purposes, the upcoming federal regulations on oral fluid drug testing and the continuing trend of companies demanding to know the return on investment of corporate drug testing.
TestCountry recently spoke with Current about the importance of having a drug testing policy in place and the simplest and most cost-effective way a company can develop one.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome for companies that want to implement a drug testing program, Current notes, is the maze of various state laws that a company has to navigate through to make sure it is complying with all the laws it needs to.
On top of the state laws, there are also federal regulations to consider, which adds to the confusion of drawing up a comprehensive drug testing policy, which is why it’s important for businesses to make sure they are doing it correctly, Current adds.
To read the full interview with this corporate drug testing expert, click here.