Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Marijuana Use While Pregnant Increases Health Risks in Child

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Pregnancy is a condition that should not be taken lightly. In fact, a recent study pointed out that the use of marijuana during childbirth posts a high risk on the baby’s health.

There are already various studies conducted regarding this issue, some of which have been evaluated to further reiterate the connection of the use of marijuana during pregnancy to low birth weight of newborn babies. In addition, according to research these babies are placed in the intensive care unit due to their delicate condition.

The breakthrough on the effectiveness of cannabis in the medical world has pushed many states and countries to work on its legalization. Study author Jayleen Gunn, who works as assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in a news release that the public should understand the effect of cannabis to fetal health.

Moreover, the research of Gunn and her associates showed that there is a 77 percent probability of the newborn being underweight if the fetus is exposed to marijuana compared to infants born of parents who did not use marijuana during pregnancy.

Data gathered by scientists are confined in the context of the relationship concerning the use of marijuana during pregnancy and the health issues faced by the newborn. It does not directly single out marijuana as the cause of the problem.

Further studies need to be conducted regarding the link between cannabis and pregnancy to better understand its effect on the pregnant women and their newborns. There are many aspects not yet explored, such as the form and amount of marijuana taken, as well as the unhealthy practices of the mother while pregnant. Just like other regulated substances, the use of cannabis should be regulated and prohibited if it posts danger to one’s health.



All You Need to Know About Urine Drug Testing Cheating: Tips, Tricks, Facts, Myths

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Drug testing has become a standard procedure to ensure safety in the workplace and the assurance of healthy living. More than merely identifying the use of drugs by a person, drug tests are now used to check for drug use of job applicants, students who engage in extra-curricular activities, workers in highly sensitive jobs, and family members living in one household.

To understand the importance and value of drug testing in society, we need to discuss some of the important facts about drug abuse and drug testing.

  • According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), close to 68 percent of identified illicit drug users are under employment.
  • The annual report entitled Monitoring The Future revealed in 2015 that 34.9 percent of 12th graders were engaged in marijuana use within the past year.
  • Here’s a very convincing figure: Roughly 95 percent of companies that conduct drug testing use urine as the test sample, based on the results of this survey.

In this age of widespread drug abuse, the need for fast and accurate drug testing has become significant, and this has led to the development of a wide variety of drug testing methods:

  • Urine drug test
  • Hair drug test
  • Blood drug test
  • Saliva drug test
  • Sweat / perspiration drug test

Urine Drug Testing: Most Common Drug Identification Method

To date, urine drug testing has emerged as the most popular drug testing method. Many individuals, companies and schools have turned to this kind of drug testing because of its various advantages:

  • Non-intrusive: Other drug testing methods require human body samples that are extracted through painful or intrusive methods. Taking a urine sample is absolutely painless.
  • Wide scope: Urine is a bodily fluid that contains a cornucopia of compounds, including drug metabolites such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, and alcohol.
  • Reliable: Most drug compounds stay in your urine for a fairly long time. This guarantees the drug test laboratory that the contents of the urine sample won’t change over time. Of course, this happens under the assumption that the sample is properly stored and free from tampering.

Process of Urine Drug Testing

Using urine as a basis to identify drug metabolites follows a fairly easy procedure. If you’re the sample donor, here’s the basic process of how urine drug testing is conducted:

  1. You will be asked to visit a pre-assigned collection facility or sample collection area. You will receive a specimen cup, into which you will put your sample of fresh urine.
  2. For precautionary measures, the people in-charge of administering the drug test will check your bags and pockets. They may require you to leave your things in a separate room, and ask you to change into a hospital gown. Don’t be surprised if someone will be present in the bathroom with you as you take the urine sample – they will simply ensure that you’re not going to cheat the test.
  3. The collection agency will probably advise you to take the middle part of the urine stream and discard the initial and final streams. The urine is to be placed into the cup provided, which you will seal with the accompanying cover.
  4. The urine sample is labeled for proper identification and taken by the collection agency, which will then turn it over to the drug testing laboratory.
  5. The drug testing lab prepares the urine sample and determines the presence of drug metabolites using chemical analysis.
  6. After the tests are completed, the drug test results are sent to the entity who requested the testing (i.e. individual, school, or company). Depending on the situation, you might just need to wait a few moments for the results to come out.
  7. Results are usually expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), and will be compared with a cutoff point. Any value above this cutoff point is a positive result, while a value lower than the cutoff is considered negative.

Cheating in Drug Tests

Nearly all companies require drug tests before hiring job applicants. Pre-employment drug testing has become one of the most controversial requirements in job hiring, because it has led many applicants to get rejected from work. As a result, some applicants – especially those who know that they just took drugs – resort to cheating their way out of drug tests.

Below are three of the most popular ways to cheat a drug test:

1. Sample dilution

Diluting a urine sample – by directly adding water to the specimen – is done to increase the proportion of water in the urine to minimize or dilute the presence of any drug metabolite. Most sample collection stations put dye in toilet bowls and shut off faucets to prevent any attempt to dilute the urine sample.

2. Ingestion of detox drinks

Flushing the body of toxins to get a negative result in drug tests is another popular trick. Manufacturers of special drinks – commonly known as detox drinks – claim to help in the process of getting rid of drug compounds by making a person urinate frequently. Some products of this kind take effect after an hour or two, and the effects usually don’t last long.

There’s reason to doubt that these detox products work, but some people vouch for its effectiveness. Of course, the secret behind these products is that you’re supposed to drink lots and lots of water for the detoxification to work. In truth, it’s the water that’s flushing out the drug compounds from your system, and not the so-called detox drink.

3. Use of synthetic urine

Synthetic urine was originally designed to calibrate drug testing equipment in preparation for testing real human urine. Unfortunately, this substance is now widely used to replace real urine in order to “hide” the drugs in a person’s body. According to synthetic urine manufacturers, the strategy works because most testing centers hardly conduct genetic analysis on the specimen.

However, what potential cheaters don’t know is that synthetic urine is not easy to sneak in. Some of the reasons include the following:

  • Strict surveillance: Collection agencies are stringent in terms of checking up on sample donors. Some centers require you to open the door while you’re dispensing the sample into the collection cup, while others inspect pockets and bags to check for fake urine.
  • Urine temperature: Freshly dispensed urine is normally between 90 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit, close to human body temperature. Unless you bring a heating device and achieve the perfect urine temperature, you really cannot get away with synthetic urine.

Drug Test Cheating Myths Debunked

Due to the wide implementation of drug tests in many areas of society, it’s not surprising that a lot of hearsay and beliefs may muddle the truth. Let us discuss some of the most common myths surrounding drug tests, and the real score behind each of them.

Myth 1: Passing a drug test is required in all companies that you plan to work in.

Probably due to the global emphasis on the importance of drug tests, one popular misconception is that all companies require their workers to undergo and pass a drug test. In a sense, the truth comes in terms of some companies requiring a drug test from job applicants and new employees.

However, the operative word here is “all”. Not all companies treat drug testing as a requirement. Most business owners in the field of medicine, engineering and construction may implement this, but companies in other fields of specialization may not be that strict when it comes to drug use. Of course, their general leniency comes with the assumption that you’re not going to use drugs during office time.

Myth 2: You can use homemade remedies that can guarantee a negative drug test result.

The Internet is a rich source of information about drug testing, but some of the online content may not be accurate or even true. If you read somewhere that drinking cranberry juice or increasing your intake of certain vitamins can affect the integrity of drug test results, think again. Many of these “truths” are merely tall tales of people who claim to have the secret homemade formula to cheat a drug test.

To date, there has been no concrete research on the effectiveness of homemade remedies to render a drug test result inaccurate. Relying on this kind of fallacy could spell disaster on your next drug test.

Myth 3: Drink lots and lots of water in order to hide and dilute drug metabolites in your urine sample.

Let’s be clear: Diluting the drug compounds in urine by drinking lots of water is actually true. Drinking water in excessive amounts can effectively reduce the concentration of drug metabolites (such as THC from marijuana). However, this strategy also dilutes the natural components of your urine, which the testing lab can detect. For instance, an extremely low concentration of creatinine in urine is considered a warning sign of drug test cheating.

Myth 4: Intense physical activity can increase your chances of passing a drug test.

Attempting to cheat a drug test is really a gamble, and this particular strategy is like playing a poor set of cards in a game of poker. Exercise improves the normal circulation of the body and enhances the removal of toxins – and drug compounds – from the body. However, this will work only if the drug test is roughly a month away.

Unfortunately, many of the drug tests in companies are unannounced and unscheduled. You may not be able to predict when the next drug test would be conducted, and so you wouldn’t know exactly when you should start exercising intensely. Would you really risk the chance of getting caught?

Myth 5: Compounds from marijuana stay in your body for a predetermined time, regardless of the cannabis variety

In the same manner that equal amounts of skimmed milk and full-cream milk have different fat contents, marijuana varieties also differ in THC concentration. Don’t think for a second that all marijuana products are created equal, because that will affect how you face drug tests.

Abstinence is still the best way to ensure a negative drug test. However, if you really have the urge to use marijuana, make sure that you know how strong it is.

Precautionary Measures To Prevent Cheating In Drug Tests

Drug testing has become a norm especially in the corporate world. Most companies conduct drug screening to ensure that the workplace is safe and that the business is being run by competent people as they make critical decisions for the company.

Since more companies are now implementing drug testing policies, cheating is a natural response by some employees. However, even though people have developed several ways to cheat, company owners should be alert and one step ahead of drug test cheaters.

Here are some tips to protect companies from potential cheating in drug tests:

  1. Follow a random and unannounced drug testing schedule. Surprising employees with a drug test will not give them room to use tricks such as diluting their urine samples with water or taking detox drinks (which need an hour or so to take effect). On-the-spot drug testing is a good and effective way to catch drug users off guard.
  2. Monitor check in times at collection sites. As the superior or the HR representative, you should be aware of the distance of the collection site from the employee workstations, as well as the duration of travel to and from the testing site. You can look into these things to check if there is dishonesty in your employees, because any delay gives a hint that they’re doing something malicious within the long time delay.
  3. Use different testing methods. Sticking to just one kind of specimen to test for drugs can give employees the opportunity to cheat. Feel free to use different drug testing sample specimens such as urine, hair, saliva and blood. This way, employees would be cornered from doing anything to fake the drug test.
  4. Invite collectors to come on site. Restricting the employees to go outside the company premises for drug test sample collection can reduce the incidence of cheating. Arrange the collection agency to visit your workplace instead.


Because of the stringent measures that drug testing entails – and the stigma that people experience when they test positive for drug use – many people resort to cheating. Whatever your status is – a company owner or an employee, a school administrator or a student, a parent or a child – it is important to note that there is no easy way to cheat a drug test. In fact, we can all say that cheating a drug test is a futile endeavor.

The best way to pass a drug test is to not take drugs. Period.

Addiction Real Drug Stories

SAMHSA Launches Opioid Recovery Mobile App Challenge

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The world is now on the offensive when it comes to drug addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. In the U.S., the federal government continues to fund programs and create initiatives towards this goal.

One exciting and recent initiative involves the use of technology to help in opioid addiction recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) plans to develop a mobile application that aims to “provide opioid recovery support for patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.” While the Opioid Recovery Support app is still not available, the organization is tapping onto the skills of mobile app developers by launching an app-making contest.

SAMHSA believes that mobile technology can have a significant impact on the lives of opioid addicts who are currently in recovery. The benefits of mobile apps on other diseases may also be translated to aid in addiction recovery measures. “Just as there are apps to help people with diabetes manage their disease, people in recovery from opioid use disorder could benefit from an app that provides features and information that support their recovery,” said SAMHSA in a statement.

The project is looking into five areas where a mobile app could be of effective use:

  1. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), specifically on checking for dosages and side effects of recovery drugs such as methadone and naltrexone.
  2. How to live through MAT, such as parenting and family involvement
  3. Prevention of relapse through habit formation, engagement in healthy activities, or involvement in recovery support meetings.
  4. Motivational tools to support relapse prevention, such as calendar alerts, access to family and hobby photos, and link to motivational videos and online resources
  5. Management tools to help manage doctor’s appointments, treatment times, and work-life schedules

Legal residents in the U.S. 18 years old and above may take part in the competition. Entries may be developed by individuals, teams, or organizations of up to 100 employees.

The contest will run until May 28, 2016. Prizes available are as follows:

  • First prize: $15,000, and a complimentary entry to the 2016 AATOD conference in October to present the app
  • Second prize: $7,500
  • Third prize: $5,000
  • Honorable mention: $1,000 for each of the five areas / insights

For more information, visit the Hackathon page and read the contest rules.


Substance Abuse

Risk of Teen Drinking Increased By Alcohol-Related Merchandise

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If you find your teenage child wearing clothes with alcohol brand logos on them, you might want to encourage your kid to rethink about their apparel choices.

According to an Australian study published in the journal Pediatrics, teenagers who own alcohol-related merchandise have a higher likelihood of engaging in drinking. “It is possible that owning the merchandise makes young people more likely to drink, or that young people who drink are more likely to want to own the merchandise, or a combination of these effects,” said Sandra Jones, who leads the research team and works at the Australian Catholic University’s Centre for Health and Social Research.

The findings were based on literature review of 13 earlier studies on alcohol brand labels and teenage drinking, going through more than 26,000 teens. One of the breakthrough discoveries in the review was that teens who own alcohol-related items (such as shirts, caps, bags, wallets, lighters, and other retail products) have a higher tendency to start their alcohol use within one year.

Researchers inferred that part of the reason behind this association was the fact that teenage years involve the creation of their individual identities based on things that influence them. “The things that they wear, carry, and consume help to create and convey their desired identity. There is increasing evidence that brands facilitate this by allowing the young person to take on and project the desirable characteristics that are associated with that brand. These characteristics and brands then become a part of their sense of self, as well as the way that others see them,” Jones said via a news report.

Worse, parents are not conscious about the impact of these things on their kids. “Many of these items are given away for free at promotional events or as gifts with purchase, and parents may hand them on to their children — or allow others to do so — without processing the fact that they are providing their child with extended exposure to an advertisement for an alcohol brand,” the study leader expressed.


Health & Wellness

Free Breakfast Program in Public Schools Doesn’t Increase Obesity Risk

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Despite earlier assumptions that serving breakfast to public school students may do more harm than good, a recent study discovered that this practice didn’t affect the risk of obesity in children.

Some U.S. school districts have found classrooms to be effective venues for students to participate in the breakfast service. “Moving breakfast into the classroom is intended to encourage participation in school breakfast programs, particularly among students unable to arrive early, and to reduce the stigma associated with a trip to the cafeteria,” said study author Amy Ellen Schwartz in a news release.

The free breakfast program has been running in New York City since 2003, but the shift to serve them in classrooms started in 2007. According to the New York City Department of Education, there was a boost in the number of students participating in the program since it was transferred from the cafeteria to the classroom. From only 25 percent participation at the beginning of the program, it has now ballooned to 80 percent participation.

Fellow study author Sean Corcoran added that the motivation behind serving breakfast in classrooms does not exactly pan out as much as the school districts hope for. “While we find that providing breakfast in the classroom had large positive effects on participation in school breakfast programs, our analysis provides no evidence of hoped-for gains in academic performance, nor of feared increases in obesity,” Corcoran added. In other words, although the study confirmed that the breakfast program had no significant impact on student obesity rates, it didn’t lead to better scholastic performance either.


Substance Abuse

Study: U.S. Laws Bring Down Underage Drinking Death Rates

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Strict regulations and the existence of laws have been successful in curbing the number of cases associated with underage drinking. This was revealed by a study on the effectiveness of laws concerning drinking age.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), looked into 20 expanded laws involving underage drinking implemented in some U.S. states. The research team sifted through the strong and weak points of each law, particularly in terms of enforcement, coverage, and sanctions for violators.

According to the study, only nine of the 20 expanded laws were effective in bringing down the number of fatalities caused by drinking below the minimum legal age. These nine laws have the ability to save more than 1,100 persons from death on a yearly basis. Sadly, not all U.S. states have all of these laws implemented or even approved. “We were surprised to find that half of the states have adopted 13 or fewer laws, that only five can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and that just one state, Utah, has adopted all 20,” said study lead author James Fell in a news item.

Some of the nine identified laws were associated with significant decreases in underage drinking-related deaths:

  • Presentation of fake ID to retailers: 11.9 percent decrease
  • License revocation in DUI cases: 7.9 percent
  • Alcohol possession: 7.7 percent decrease
  • Purchase of alcohol: 4.2 percent
  • Underage bartender: 4.1 percent

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


Substance Abuse

Obama Unveils Federal Government Plans For Drug Abuse Treatment During National RX Summit

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president barack obama at 5th national rx drug abuse and heroin summit in atlanta

The federal government is serious in its drive against substance abuse, as it forwarded a proposal last February to significantly increase allocation for the enhancement of treatment programs for prescription drug abuse.

At the 5th National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta last March 29, President Barack Obama revealed a number of plans and initiatives that the federal government is planning to unfold as part of the nationwide campaign against drug abuse. In his statement reported via a news release, Obama mentioned that opioid overdose has surpassed vehicular accidents in terms of the number of fatalities. “We’ve spent a lot of time and resources to reduce traffic fatalities. It’s been successful. We have to take a systematic look at the data and science and develop strategies,” Obama said.

The National RX Summit became an opportunity for the U.S. president to sit down with event organizer Operation UNITE, a non-profit organization that “leads education, treatment and law enforcement initiatives in 32 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky.”

Some of the government initiatives in line with this vision include the following:

  • Creation of a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Parity Task Force
  • Integration of a disorder parity in Medicaid
  • Provision of $11 million in several U.S. states to prevent opioid overdose fatalities
  • Improvement of coordination between medical professionals and law enforcement agencies through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas initiative by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In response to and support of Obama’s statement, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy reminded medical professionals about their role in fighting drug abuse. “Those of us who practice medicine can lead the way in ending the epidemic of prescription drug overdoses,” Murthy said.

[Image from RX Summit Facebook Page]


Health & Wellness

Fruit Drinks For Children May Have Too Much Sugar, Says Study

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Fruit juice boxes flood the groceries and parents are unaware that these boxes of liquid sweetness don’t really provide their kids with healthy doses of vitamins, but instead load them up with unacceptably high dose of sugar.

Fruit juice is camouflaged and is not always as it seems even if it’s labeled as “100% pure” because the production undergoes a process wherein most of the flavor has been removed. This then leads the manufacturer to add “flavor packs” to restore the flavor lost during the processing.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society assessed sugar content of several fruit juice drink, 100% natural juices, and smoothies marketed specifically to children. According to the findings of the study as reported in a news release, close to 50 percent of the fruit juice products already contains at least 19 grams of sugar, which is already the daily recommended sugar consumption of a child.

In addition, while the fruit juice boxes were labeled safe according to European law, the information is applicable to adult females with average built and active lifestyles. As a result, the nutrient content in these products may not be suitable for kids.

Likewise, since fruit juice is high in calories and sugar, obesity and cavity problems may arise in children. Being in liquid form, it can also give a feeling of fullness to children, so they become less likely to feel hunger for more nutritious foods and beverages.

Details of the study are published in the journal BMJ Open.


Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Excessive Long-Term Marijuana Use May Lead To Poor Social And Financial Status At Middle Age

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Marijuana is said to be less destructive than alcohol health-wise, but it can give one’s financial and social well-being a blow. Heavy users and long-term dependents of cannabis are often faced with economic and social problems when they reach midlife. They find themselves being into less prestigious jobs with low pay and poor skills. Persistent use of the drug affects job performance and relationships with others.

This was confirmed through a study led by Magdalena Cerda, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis. Her research team concluded that people “who smoked regularly, defined as at least four times per week over the course of several years, had significantly more economic problems such as high levels of debt, poorer credit rating, limits on cash flow and even difficulty paying for food or rent,” as reported in this article.

Furthermore, they have a higher likelihood to manifest antisocial behaviors in the workplace. Lying may be natural for them and they may find themselves more irritable that they easily figure in conflicts with people at work. Moreover, they may find it hard to maintain intimate relationships as conflicts will always arise.

To date, no study has solidified the conclusion that marijuana intake causes the aforementioned problems, but this study seems to have proven a strong link between them.


Substance Abuse

Teen Kratom Use Banned in Proposed New Hampshire Bill

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Roughly a week after Alabama legislators propose stricter regulations for Kratom, the state of New Hampshire is slated to follow suit.

The state Senate recently approved a proposed bill to ban Kratom use by any person below 18 years old. The motivation behind this bill is clear. “It is known lead addicts back to heroin. It has been linked to seizures, psychosis, hallucinations, delusion and confusion,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark in a news item.

The bill got a unanimous vote from senators of New Hampshire, which is now part of the list of U.S. states that have enacted legislation to ban Kratom use.

Kratom continues to be available in many retail shops around the country, and supporters vouch for its therapeutic benefits especially in terms of chronic pain management. Some say that it also leads them away from addiction to opioid medication.

The controversial substance originates from a plant that is endemic in Southeast Asia, and has been used through either drinking as tea or smoking.