Category Archives: Alcohol Testing

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Study Finds Drug and Alcohol Violations at Nuclear Power Plants have Increased Dramatically

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Drug Free Workplace SignThe people working at real life nuclear power stations might just be a little more like Homer Simpson than you’re comfortable with.

That’s because a new study has found that incidences of drug and alcohol violations have continually risen over the past five years from about one per month to averaging about one per week now.

The findings come from the non-profit group Fairewinds Energy Education, who found the majority of drug and alcohol violations occurred in the southeastern states. Those violations included drinking alcohol in a protected area, and positive tests for marijuana and cocaine.

The report looked at violations of the Fitness For Duty program, which nuclear reactor owners are required to implement to ensure that all personnel who have access to the power plants are drug and alcohol free and have no psychological impairment that might comprise the safe operation of the plant. The report found during the past five years, Fitness For Duty violations in the United States have more than doubled. Those are led by alcohol related events, which have nearly quadrupled during the same time period.

“The data unequivocally demonstrates that workforce personnel and licensed reactor operators are under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs while on-duty, despite the knowledge that such actions when caught can end careers, and that programs are in place that have been designed to identify those who are under the influence, indicating serious addictive issues not occasional social consumption of alcohol and drugs,” the report states. “Not only are workers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs while on the job, they are also bringing that same contraband into work with them, in some cases with documented evidence to determine there was intent to distribute.”

 

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Alcohol Makes Skin Problems Worse

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If you’re aiming for a smooth complexion and overall healthy skin, you might want to put down that glass of liquor.

alcohol skin flushA recent feature by CBS New York revealed that alcohol can lead to detrimental effects on the skin. In some cases, existing skin problems can be aggravated by taking alcohol into the bloodstream.

New York dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad shared how his patients are surprised by the link between alcohol and their skin health. “Most people do not make the association that alcohol does have an effect on their skin condition,” he said. He added that minor skin problems can be made worse by alcohol. People suffering from eczema, dry skin and psoriasis find out later on that drinking that extra glass of alcohol makes their skin more irritated. “Conditions that are exacerbated by sweating… will get worse,” Ostad warned.

Regular folks were asked about their experiences with alcohol and skin problems, and here’s what some people shared:

Deanna Kugler said “when I drink alcohol, I tend to break out,” talking about her inflammatory acne. Luckily, she says, makeup is always there to conceal the evidence.

Samantha Kucher had experiences of her skin turning red and hot. “When I put people’s hands on my skin they’re just surprised by how hot I am,” Kucher shared.

While alcohol may lead to worsening of skin problems, Ostad said that the main key is moderate drinking. “Once you really make that lifestyle change where you drink less … the effects are absolutely reversible,” he advised.

Alcohol Testing Workplace Testing

Canada Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory Workplace Alcohol Testing

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Ensuring safety in the workplace should not cross the right to privacy of any employee.

workplace alcohol test rejected by canada supreme courtThis appears to be the drive behind the decision of Canada’s Supreme Court June 14 against the employee policy of Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. implemented in 2006. The company’s policy required all unionized employees to be subjected to random alcohol testing in order to ensure safety of the company’s manufacturing plant, according to a news report.

Local 30 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) filed a grievance against the company in 2006.

According to the supreme court decision, the paper company’s policy encroaches on the rights of employees to privacy, even if the workers are employed in a critical area within the facility. The high court voted 6-3 against the company.

Furthermore, the decision stated that mandatory workplace testing only applies in the work setting under the following conditions: (1) the company has experienced worker impairment while employed; (2) an employee figured in a work-related accident or safety issue; and (3) the worker has a history or case of substance abuse, and has returned to work following necessary treatment.

CEP president David Coles was hopeful that this supreme court decision could lead to another triumph in a similar case in Alberta’s Suncor Energy, where plans to implement a random alcohol and drug testing system are being laid out.

Furthermore, he said that the ruling shows that policies on random testing in high-risk facilities do not guarantee employee protection. “It turns out to be nothing more than an invasion of ones’ privacy with no net gain for the consequence of safety,” Coles added.

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Elderly Sober Man Charged with DUI Plans to Sue Arizona Police

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A seemingly simple DUI case has turned into a racist issue and a possible lawsuit.

Jessie Thornton, 64, was stopped in Surprise, Arizona by police who claimed that he was drunk driving. According to Thornton, the police officers pulled him over because he ran the white line in the middle of the road. The cops then declared that his eyes were red, as reported in the Daily Mail.

“An officer walked up and he said, ‘I can tell you’re driving DUI by looking in your eyes.’ I take my glasses off and he says, ‘You’ve got bloodshot eyes,'” Thornton said. But the Ohio native said that he just came from swimming at LA Fitness, hence the red eyes.

Apparently the cops weren’t convinced, and proceeded to conduct a sobriety test. True enough, the breathalyzer read a blood alcohol level of “0.00”, which means that there was zero alcohol in his bloodstream. Thornton confirmed this, saying that he did not drink any alcoholic drinks prior to driving.

Despite this, the officers brought him to the station, where he was subjected to drug tests for possible substance abuse. The station’s drug recognition expert declared him completely “free from impairment” caused by drugs.

After being released, Thornton learned that his driver’s license was going to be suspended for the time being, and his vehicle impounded for three days.

Thornton claims that the arrest was fueled not by DUI but by race. He says he was DWB — driving while black. He is now in talks with a lawyer for a possible lawsuit against the Surprise police station, amounting to $500,000 in damages.

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Critics: Reducing Blood Alcohol Content Limit Is Not The Answer To Drunk Driving Fatalities

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A recent proposal to decrease the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for drivers is getting flak from anti-drunk driving advocates.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a comprehensive report lobbying to reduce the legal limit of a non-commercial driver’s blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05. By logic, this seems common sense, since drivers with lower alcohol content in their blood tend to function better on the road than drunk drivers.

However, critics and advocates are not pleased with this effort, according to a news release. In fact, the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes that the government’s focus is slightly off-base. MADD President Jan Withers expressed her opposition to the proposal, saying that reducing the BAC limit “will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.”

In its report entitled “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving”, the NTSB discusses the relative crash risk of a driver with varying blood alcohol content levels. The study shows that drivers with a BAC of 0.05 have 38 percent likelihood of figuring in a drunk-driving accident, while at 0.08 the driver has more than 150 percent risk.

Despite the clashing sides, the NTSB and its critics agree that drunk drivers should be kept off the road, and that effective policies must be in place to reduce incidents of drunk-driving accidents. Driver education on the effects of drinking must be strengthened, while technologies to prevent drunk people from driving should be further developed.

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman says that the statistics of road fatalities due to alcohol impairment may have plateaued, but the issue has not been totally solved yet.

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Primary Care Screening Recommended For Alcohol Misuse

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A recent study by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) formed the basis for updating its own recommendations on screening and counseling interventions related to alcohol misuse.

As representative of USPSTF, Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH conducted a comprehensive literature review in order to update the 2004 USPSTF recommendations related to screening and clinical counseling of people immersed in alcohol misuse. New evidence on the effectiveness of alcohol screening procedures was reviewed, particularly in the sections related to the improvement of health outcomes, procedural accuracy, impact of behavioral counseling on long-term results, disadvantages of screening and counseling interventions, and influence of the health care system on the effectiveness of alcohol screening and counseling interventions.

Based on the results of the literature review, Dr. Moyer and colleagues updated the 2004 recommendations by strengthening the definition of alcohol misuse to include the entire array of unhealthy drinking behaviors instead of limiting the meaning to hazardous or harmful drinking.

The team recommends the primary care screening of adults 18 years old and above for alcohol misuse. Meanwhile, people engaged in risky or hazardous drinking should be subjected to short behavioral counseling interventions in order to reduce alcohol misuse (Grade B recommendation). However, the same statement cannot be said for alcohol misuse in adolescents due to insufficient evidence.

While the recommendations were based on strategic and systematic review, USPSTF declares that the decisions should be based not merely on evidence presented, but also on other factors. Intervention and clinical decisions should still be tailor-fit to the specific patient or condition.

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Swedish Study Finds Several Illegal Substances Can be Detected Using Breath Tests

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Drug use detection in individuals is often performed by means of urine, saliva, and blood tests. But a new study showed several banned substances can also be detected using breathalyzers.

In a study conducted by a group of researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, more than 10 substances were successfully identified in the breath of 47 patients, who were recruited from a drug addiction emergency clinic, using a simple, commercially available breath test. The breath samples were analyzed using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, and later revealed the presence of cocaine, amphetamines, methadone, methamphetamine, and marijuana, among others.

The researchers’ findings were published on April 26 in the Journal of Breath Research.

Professor Olof Beck, lead author of the study, said they were surprised that there was still “high detectability for most drugs” even though the samples were taken 24 hours after intake of drugs.

Breathalyzers are rapidly becoming a preferred drug detection device particularly in DUI cases because they are non-invasive and less prone to adulteration. Early this year, the U.S. Navy announced the fleetwide rollout of breathalyzer tests in the hope of discouraging irresponsible drinking among sailors. Even a growing number of schools are subjecting their students to breath tests to prevent drunk driving.

“In cases of suspected driving under the influence of drugs, blood samples could be taken in parallel with breath when back at a police station,” Beck explained in a news release. “Future studies should therefore test the correlation between blood concentration of drugs of abuse and the concentrations in exhaled breath.”

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Reese Witherspoon Makes a Fool of Herself During Humiliating Arrest, Later Apologizes to Police Officer

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Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon often portrays goody-goody characters in her films. But on April 19, she tackled a more daring role that landed her in jail.

Witherspoon was handcuffed and sent to the Altanta city jail following an altercation with a police officer who pulled over her husband, James Toth, on a drunken driving charge.

According to police report, Trooper First Class J. Pyland stopped Toth after seeing him weave in and out of his lane. After several coordination tests and a breathalyzer test, Toth was found to have an alcohol level of 0.139, which is way above the legal limit of 0.08 for a DUI charge.

Pyland said Witherspoon was advised to stay in the couple’s Ford Fusion, but the actress disobeyed the order. The trooper recalled Witherspoon asking him “Do you know my name?” and saying “You’re about to find out who I am.”

Witherspoon, 37, and Toth, 42, ended up spending a few hours in jail while their vehicle was impounded, CNN reports.

Atlanta municipal court officials say the first court hearing that was supposed to have taken place earlier this week was moved to May.

The Golden Globe-winning actress issued a statement on Sunday, April 21, apologizing for her behavior.

“But I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior.”

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Snapshots from the DATIA 2013 Annual Conference

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Over 600 drug and alcohol testing professionals gathered in Orlando, FL April 9 – 12 for the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) 2013 Annual Conference.

The conference featured 65 exhibitors from the drug and alcohol testing industry, as well as educational sessions on various topics related to drug and alcohol testing, including: Certified Professional Collector Trainer Training; Advanced Drug and Alcohol Testing Program Management; Developing an Effective Supervisor Training Program and Alternative Specimen Collection Training.

Many big names in alcohol and drug testing spoke at the conference.

Barry Sample of Quest Diagnostics Inc. gave a 25 year retrospective of the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, examining long and short – term drug testing trends based upon insights derived from more than 100 million tests performed by Quest Diagnostics over the past 25 years.

Quest publishes the Drug Testing Index as a public service for government, media and industry and it has been considered a benchmark for national drug trends since 1988.

Doug Mullen of Airlines for America talked about aviation testing outside of the U.S. and the implications of the Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed regulations that will require some repair station employees outside of the U.S. to be drug and alcohol tested.

A three-member panel with Brian Drew of Nationwide Medical Review, Patricio Labatut of Global Partners Ltd. and Kirk Hardy of The International Drug Detection Agency explored how international drug testing programs in Latin America and Oceania are advancing and the issues which they are currently dealing with, as well as a discussion about iDATIA, DATIA’s international drug free workplace program accreditation.

Also on the subject of international drug testing, Bill Current, with WFC and Associates, talked about how drug testing in countries outside the U.S. is exploding and what laws, health codes, privacy regulations, labor agreements, and best practice standards U.S.-based drug testing providers need to know about to cash in on this burgeoning market.

The DATIA 2013 Annual Conference also featured presentations on drugged driving, alcohol testing, marijuana legalization, DNA testing and implementing a student drug testing policy, among others.

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse Twitter Summaries

Alcohol Policy 16 Brings Big Names to Nation’s Capital

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Several big name players in global alcohol policy gathered in Washington DC recently to talk about the legal drug and how best to regulate it to avoid exacerbating further problems related to alcohol abuse. Alcohol Policy 16 logo

Health risk factors, the global threat of alcohol abuse, alcohol pricing and ways to diminish the health risks of alcohol and its abuse were all on the agenda for the conference, which took place April 3 – 5. The conference featured many experts in the field of alcohol research and policy from around the world, allowing attendees to contrast and compare how different countries handle the constant threat of alcohol abuse.

For a summary of what happened at the conference, see my Twitter summary of the event.