Drug Testing

Drug Testing Expert Dennis Kerns Talks About American Drug Culture

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With the rise in popularity of synthetic drugs, marijuana, prescription drugs and other substances that are susceptible to abuse, more Americans are becoming aware of the situation. In fact, it can be said that drugs are slowly becoming part of the culture of this generation.

Because of the drug culture that the U.S. is gradually developing, several groups — employers, educational institutions, law enforcement agencies and families — are making drug testing a critical part of their everyday life.

Dennis KernsTestCountry sat down with Dennis Kerns, one of leading experts in the field of drug testing. Kerns served as president and board member of the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association (SAPAA), and has assisted various employers in drafting drug testing policies and programs.

Here are some snippets of our interview with Dennis Kerns:

  • “I don’t believe the legalization of marijuana will have a huge impact on workplace drug testing.”
  • “Companies should review their drug testing policies and determine their stand on marijuana. After that the policy should be altered, if necessary, to meet the company’s goals and standards.”
  • “Today’s society is very marijuana-friendly because of an overall lack of research on the effects and duration of effects of marijuana after use.”

Read more of our interview here in this link.

Real Drug Stories

Uruguay’s Marijuana Policy Dodges Bullet to Stay on Track

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marijuana legalization alaska oregon district of columbiaA presidential run-off election in Uruguay on Sunday threatened to derail the country’s progressive marijuana policy. But, Frente Amplio candidate Tabaré Vázquez beat opposition candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou by 53.6% to 41.1%.

Vázquez has promised to continue implementing marijuana regulation that sees the drug legalized, regulated and taxed by the federal government. Lacalle Pou, on the other hand, had said that if he were to become president, he would repeal major parts of the law, including government-regulated sales to adults.

“Sunday’s presidential election result safeguards Uruguay’s historic marijuana legalization” said Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Uruguayan people determinedly chose the presidential candidate who will continue the country’s progressive policies, including the roll out of the world’s first national legally regulated marijuana market.”

On December 10, 2013, the Uruguayan parliament approved legislation making their country the first in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults.

Since then, the government has been rolling out the implementation of the law, which allows for domestic cultivation of six plants per household, cannabis social clubs, and licensed sales to adult residents in pharmacies.

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

“Replacement” Addictions May be a Myth

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cocaine addictionPeople overcoming one addiction only to replace it with another one is a common stereotype about addiction, but new research suggests that that may be a myth. In fact, the research, from Columbia University, suggests that people who overcome a substance use disorder have less than half the risk of those who do not overcome it of developing a new addiction.

“The results are surprising, they cut against conventional clinical lore, which holds that people who stop one addiction are at increased risk of picking up a new one,” Senior Author Dr. Mark Olfson said. “The results challenge the old stereotype that people switch or substitute addictions, but never truly overcome them.”

The researchers examined data from surveys taken in 2001 and 2004, which included almost 35,000 adults, and compared the occurrence of a new substance use disorder among adults who already had at least one such disorder.

Of those who had a substance use disorder in 2001, about 20 percent had one by 2004.

The researchers found 13% of those who were in recovery from their original substance use disorder developed a new one, compared with 27% of those who still struggled with their original addiction.

Those most likely to develop a new substance use disorder during the study were young, unmarried men who had mental health problems in addition to substance abuse.

The survey participants were asked about a wide range of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, tobacco, painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizers.

The findings appear in JAMA Psychiatry.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

CDC Releases List of Healthcare Facilities Equipped to Fight Ebola

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ebola virus africaThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a list of healthcare centers that are able to fight ebola in the United States and plans on keeping the list updated as more hospitals become equipped to fight the disease. As of this writing, there are 35 hospitals equipped to handle ebola cases.

The list of hospitals that are equipped to fight ebola can be found here.

The CDC has also released guidelines for preparing to admit a patient diagnosed with ebola for state and local health departments, acute care hospitals, and other emergency care settings, including urgent care clinics. This newly released set of guidelines serves as an overarching framework for three other specific CDC guidance documents:

  • Interim Guidance for Preparing Frontline Healthcare Facilities for Patients with Possible Ebola Virus Disease;
  • Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Assessment Hospitals; and
  • Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Treatment Centers.

The new guidance framework for handling ebola patients can be found here.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Dec. 2 is National Mutt Day!

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December 2 is National Mutt Day (again).

Photo courtesy of Kerri Lee Smith on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Kerri Lee Smith on Flickr

National Mutt Day was created in 2005 by animal welfare advocate, Colleen Paige, and is celebrated on both July 31st and December 2nd. It’s all about embracing, saving and celebrating mixed breed dogs, as they represent the largest percentage of dogs euthanized in pet shelters thanks to people’s penchant for purebred and designer dogs.

The goal is to save 10,000 mutts from shelters over the two days. For more information about National Mutt Day, click here.

Once you have adopted your mutt, it’s important to find out what breeds your mutt consists of. Different breeds have different illnesses and conditions they are susceptible to and knowing what breeds your mutt consists of will go a long way to keeping your pooch healthy and happy.

Click here to find out how you can easily find out your dog’s breeds. And happy National Mutt Day!


Rate of Cigarette Smoking in U.S. Reaches 48-Year Record Low

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Here’s some good news to lighten up the air: Last year, the U.S. recorded its lowest rate of cigarette smoking in 48 years.

quit smokingThis surprising finding came from a study by a team of researchers led by Dr. Brian King, who works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health. According to the study, the rate of adult cigarette smoking dropped from 20.9 percent in 2005 to only 17.8 percent in 2013. This is the lowest figure since the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was started in 1965, according to Medical News Today.

The study was based on previous NHIS data, including last year’s information coming from close to 35,000 adult respondents. Survey participants who smoked every day represented 80.8% of the respondent pool in 2005, but that figure has since dropped to only 76.8% last year. The number of cigarette sticks puffed on a daily basis also decreased from 16.7% to 14.2% across the same time frame.

Despite the drop in cigarette smoking rates, the numbers are still high for specific demographics: males, young adults, multi-race U.S. citizens, disabled, and gay / lesbian. The research team emphasized the importance of reaching out to these groups and implementing early intervention. “These disparities underscore the importance of enhancing the implementation and reach of proven strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco use among these groups, as well as expanding questions on surveillance tools to better capture data on subpopulations with the greatest burden of tobacco use,” the researchers said.

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Law For Veterans Lobbied in Congress

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Medical marijuana was a hot topic during the vote earlier this month, and it seems that some members of the government are planning to push for wider coverage.

marijuana legalizationHouse representatives Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Earl Blumenaur, D-Ore. are pushing the Veterans Equal Access bill, a legislation that gives medical professionals in the Veterans Affairs Department the opportunity to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients. At present, the department has disallowed its doctors from giving marijuana prescriptions to retired military personnel.

Rep. Rohrabacher believes that veterans must be given equal rights as other U.S. citizens. “Our antiquated drug laws must catch up with the real suffering of so many of our veterans… This is now a moral cause and a matter of supreme urgency,” Rohrabacher said in a news release.

Meanwhile, Rep. Blumenaur emphasized the dire need of veterans to a wide variety of medical options. “We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows,” the Oregon lawmaker said.

Many of the war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is supposedly a qualifying condition for issuing medical marijuana in selected U.S. states. According to VA records, roughly one-sixth of the veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, with some of them assigned to war-stricken areas such as Afghanistan and Iran in the past.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Post Card - Dave

Health & Wellness

Study: Breast Size Linked To Mental Health In Teenage Girls

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Women who think too much about their breasts may seem superficial, but a recent study confirms that this concern may affect their mental condition.

teenage girlsAccording to researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, young women who have breasts that are either asymmetric or excessively large were found to have issues with their emotional well-being. Study co-author Dr. Brian Labow, who works at the hospital’s Director of the Adolescent Breast Clinic, confirmed this through an interview with Yahoo!. “We found that breast asymmetry negatively impacts social and emotional functioning,” Dr. Labow said.

The study involved a survey on females between the ages of 12 and 21 who were found to have breast asymmetry of at least one cup size difference. Some of the respondents were diagnosed with tuberous breast deformity, a health condition characterized by impaired breast growth. Results of the survey showed a significant difference between the responses of girls with asymmetric breasts and those with normal breast growth.

In addition, women who had large breasts were inclined to have lower self-esteem and higher risk of developing mental health problems.

Dr. Labow further stated that while breast cancer is still an important and pressing issue, it has somehow shifted focus away from other breast-related health concerns. “I love the awareness for breast cancer, and the pink ribbons, but cancer has really dwarfed all other breast health problems,” added Dr. Labow. However, this hasn’t stopped him and Boston Children’s Hospital Oncology Department from developing clothing for teenagers who feel insecure with their breasts. “[Breast reconstructive surgery] is not for everyone, and we’re not advocating it for everyone. But with the corrective clothing, a girl can feel more confident. She can feel whole,” said Dr. Labow.

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

AI Proposed to Help Cut Down on Opiate Drug Addiction

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A clinical trial to test whether monitoring from artificial intelligence can help reduce opiate dependency is about to get underway. smartphone health

Getting over addiction to opiates often requires addicts to adhere to medication therapy, but patients sometimes don’t take their medication or take it incorrectly or, worst of all, they sell it to others. This means, obviously, that recovering addicts don’t benefit from this medication therapy as much as they should.

That’s where AiCure comes in.

The company has created an app using advanced facial recognition and motion-sensing technology that can detect, in real time, whether a person is taking their medication as prescribed without the need for human supervision. Patients who take incorrect doses or do not use the software are automatically flagged for immediate follow-up.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has provided $1 million in funding to assess whether patients using the AiCure platform are more adherent to their medication therapy and whether adoption of the system can improve treatment duration and reduce the risk of relapse.

The trial is being carried out with the Cincinnati Addiction Research Center (CinARC) at the University of Cincinnati and includes a total of 130 participants over the course of 12 months.

Preliminary results of the trial are expected to be published in August 2015.