Testing It Up » September 2012

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Substance Abuse

DEA Held 5th Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day over the weekend, Sept. 29, from 10 am to 2 pm.

Following the success of the four prior events in two years, the DEA and its national, tribal, and community partners held the fifth prescription drug take back day at thousands of sites across America. The goal: to collect potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs.

“The growing response to DEA’s national Take Back Day events demonstrates that the public understands, and wants to help combat, the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in America. They recognize the need to rid their homes of dangerous controlled substance medications that teens and others steal, abuse, and sell,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart in a Delcotimes.com report.

The program began in 2010 and according to DEA website, over 1.5 million pounds of prescription drugs have so far been collected. During the last take-back day in April, more than 4,200 state and local law enforcement partners collected a record-breaking 552,161 pounds of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The abuse of prescription drugs has been noted as the fastest-growing drug problem in America. In 2009, 16 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Among the commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include Oxycodone, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, and Adderall.

“DEA will continue holding these national Take Back Day events as long as they are needed to prevent diversion, addiction, and overdose deaths,” Leonhart added.

Celebrity Substance Abuse

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Actor Johnny Lewis Found Dead in a Los Angeles Home Driveway

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Johnny Lewis, best known for his role in the FX original series Sons of Anarchy, was found dead in a driveway of a Los Feliz Home in Los Angeles from an apparent fall.

According to a CNN.com report, investigators believed that Lewis brutally killed his 81-year-old landlord, Katherine Davis, following an altercation on Wednesday before falling to his death to escape police.

On Thursday, a toxicology was conducted, but while police suspect that drugs were involved in the incident, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said: “we don’t have any hard evidence that says he was on anything right now.”

“After ‘bath salts,’ new drugs are coming out all the time and young people try new drugs all the time,” Smith said. “That’s, of course, one of the things that our detectives are going to look into, whether he was using that or anything else.”

The Los Angeles Police did not mention the actor’s criminal history. Nonetheless, prior media reports cited Lewis’ chemical dependency and mental health issues. CNN managed to obtain records of two arrests in February on burglary and battery charges in Santa Monica, California, but no further details were available on the status of those cases.

Substance Abuse

Kentucky Medical Board Suspends Doctor’s License Following Death of Patients Due to Prescription Drug Overdose

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The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure suspended early this week the license of a 67-year old doctor after more than a dozen of his patients died from prescription drug overdose.

Dr. Gary Shearer is subject to face a federal criminal investigation following the death of fifteen patients in the past three years.

According to the medical board’s emergency order of suspension, the doctor failed “to comply with acceptable and prevailing practices in the treatment and monitoring of patients prescribed controlled substances.”

The Courier-Journal.com reports that the medical board began investigating Shearer on November after they found, through a system called KASPER, that he was a top prescriber of the narcotic OxyCodone in the state of Kentucky.

KASPER tracks prescription medication to identify patients who “doctor shop” or doctors who operate “pill mills.”

A law passed this year requires doctors to use KASPER before writing prescription. But the medical board consultant found upon reviewing records of fifteen patients that Shearer did not bother to check the patients’ history of prescription drug use on the system.

“Those patients were still given a prescription for narcotics without being closely monitored,” the consultant wrote in a report to the medical board. “These patients are at a very high risk for narcotic overdose.”

On April, FBI and DEA agents seized all patients’ charts and more than 300 blank pre-signed prescriptions from Shearer’s office. The raid was part of an investigation on the death of fifteen patients.

The doctor could not be reached for any comment following the suspension of his license.

Substance Abuse

New York Smoking Shop Ordered to Stop Selling Synthetic Drugs

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A Syracuse-based adult smoking shop was ordered to permanently remove synthetic drugs from its shelves and pay $27,000 in penalties and cost.

According to a report on Centralny.ynn.com, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Tuesday that a consent order and judgment was issued against Twisted Headz and its owner for selling Permagrin and White Rhino, which were marketed as potpourri. Although both products were labeled with “not meant for human consumption,” a store clerk was claimed to have recommended a type of pipe to achieve the best effect from the substances. Aside from Permagrin and White Rhino, the undercover agents have also purchased a package of “kratom,” Fly Agaric Mushrooms and a nitrous oxide charger, cracker and balloon.

“The proliferation of synthetic drugs has become a crisis in Onondaga County, New York State and across the country,” says Schneiderman in a media release. “The judge’s order proves that, by taking a creative approach in using the state’s existing labeling laws, we can get swift results to remove dangerous designer drugs off store shelves and hold sellers accountable for breaking the law.”

The order and judgment against  Twisted Headz stemmed from the lawsuit filed by Schneiderman’s office in July. Twisted Headz is only one of the sixteen head shops sued by the Attorney General’s office for violating New York’s labeling laws.


The lawsuits follow an undercover operation targeting head shops throughout New York.

Health & Wellness

NYC Mayor Calls for Healthier Hospitals Through Latest Health Campaign

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New York City could possibly be the healthiest place to be in America after its mayor seeks to ban junk foods in hospital cafeterias and vending machines.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest health campaign urges both public and private hospitals to ban fatty and sugary foods. The CBS News reports that the cafeteria crackdown will forbid deep fryers and instead encourage serving nutritious snacks and meals.

“If there’s any place that should not allow smoking or try to make you eat healthy, you would think it’d be the hospitals,” Bloomberg said Monday. “We’re doing what we should do and you’ll see, I think, most of the private hospitals go along with it.”

The guidelines of Bloomberg’s Healthy Hospital Food initiative are voluntary, but critics say the move is another indication that the mayor is running a “nanny state.”

However despite mixed reactions from New Yorkers, sixteen hospitals have already joined the initiative. Participating hospitals adopt the New York City Food Standards which ensures that employees, visitors, and patients have access to healthier food. That means, more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will soon be seen in New York City hospitals.

One of the goals of Bloomberg’s health campaigns is to address the growing problem of childhood obesity in the United States. Early this month, his proposal to ban the sale of supersized sodas and other sugary beverages at fast-food restaurants and theaters beginning in March has been approved, much to the dismay of some New Yorkers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that during the past twenty years, a significant increase in obesity in the United States has been observed. Approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese, making them more prone to develop heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Substance Abuse

Task Force Recommends Screening and Counseling to Combat Alcohol Misuse

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The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force issued draft recommendation on screening and behavioral counseling in an effort to curtail alcohol misuse.

According to the news bulletin released on Sept. 24, the draft recommendation applies specifically to screening and behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse in the primary care setting.

The draft recommendation has two parts:

  • The Task Force recommended that clinicians screen all adults 18 and older and pregnant women for alcohol misuse and provide individuals engaged in risky or hazardous drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse.
  • The Task Force also determined that there currently is not enough evidence to make a recommendation about whether it is effective to screen and provide behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse for adolescents aged 12 to 17.

These recommendations will not be applicable to people who signs or symptoms of alcohol misuse or who already are seeking evaluation or treatment for alcohol use.

Task Force Member Dr. Susan Curry, Ph.D., said: “Clinicians can help men and women to prevent alcohol-related health risks, so we recommend screening adults, including pregnant women, for patterns of unhealthy drinking, and offering brief behavioral counseling to those who report risky or hazardous drinking.”

Alcohol misuse results to more than 85,000 deaths each year, making it the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Approximately one-third of the U.S. population is affected by alcohol misuse — with most people engaged in risky use or drinking more than the recommended amounts.

Health & Wellness

Trader Joe’s Recalled Peanut Butter Products Contaminated with Salmonella

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Trader Joe’s recalled peanut butter sold in its store chain after being linked to salmonella illnesses in over a dozen states.

The Freep.com reports that the store’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter has been associated to 29 cases of salmonella illnesses in 18 states. Over the weekend, the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement that an investigation is underway to determine whether any other items sold at the store could be contaminated.

Majority of those who became ill were children under the age of eighteen, but no deaths have been reported. The government also did not provide details about the affected states. However according to the individual states’ health departments, three cases were from Massachusetts and one each from Rhode Island and North Carolina.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notified Trader Joe’s on the investigation they are conducting. Residents were also warned not to eat the peanut butter for their safety.

Meanwhile, just a few days after Trader Joe’s peanut butter recall, a New Mexico-based company, Sunland Inc., also recalled 76 types of peanut butter and almond butter after one of its products was linked to a salmonella outbreak at Trader Joe’s groceries.

Individuals infected with salmonella develop illnesses, such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps which can last four to seven days. Children, elderly, and people with weak immune system are the most likely to get infected and experience severe illnesses.

Celebrity Substance Abuse

Chris Brown’s Drug Test Shows Positive for Marijuana

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R&B singer Chris Brown is all over the news again after his drug test reveals a positive result for marijuana.

According to the ABC News report, Brown tested positive for marijuana, but it wasn’t clear how it will impact his probation.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg went over the probation report sent by the Richmond, Va., police chief, but found the community service logs “somewhat cryptic.” A November 1 hearing has been scheduled to determine whether Brown violated his probation terms.

Brown is serving a five-year probation which resulted from a 2009 assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna. The probation report from Virginia stated that he completed 1,402 hours of community service, which included trash pickup, washing cars, painting and tending to stables. His appearance in court on Monday was the first in a year.

Although Judge  Schnegg said that the random drug test was not a condition of Brown’s probation, she warned the singer to be mindful of his public image.

“You are not an average person who can sit in their living room and do what you want to do,” Schnegg said, noting that Brown’s mother was sitting in the courtroom. “You are not only in the public eye, but you are on probation. … which means that if you violate any laws or orders, then you’re subject to a probation violation.”

The judge also ordered Brown to see his probation officer within the next three days and urged him to be careful.

Substance Abuse

KLEAN Treatment Center Chairman and CEO Shares the Importance of Substance Abuse Intervention in an Exclusive Interview

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Dealing with drug addiction is no easy feat for both drug addicts and their family members. But thanks to the concept of drug rehab, there now exist a handful of professionals and recovery centers that offer programs meant to reclaim lives that were once lost.

Drug rehabilitation centers are equipped with addiction and behavioral specialists who monitor patients’ physical health, as well as address emotional and mental issues during recovery. Aside from helping drug addicts recover, the staff also educate them about avoiding environment that may trigger relapse and teach them to live a productive life without drugs. These centers can work on outpatient or inpatient basis, depending on the degree of addiction that needs to be treated.

One of those centers that provide cutting edge treatment approach for alcohol and drug addiction is KLEAN Treatment Center. The residential rehab facility provides an array of treatment services, including professional intervention, detox, inpatient treatment, and aftercare.

Recently, TestCountry had the opportunity to interview KLEAN’s Chairman and CEO Andrew Spanswick. The discussion tackles the organization’s stand on synthetic drugs which is one of the popular drugs of abuse among teenagers and adults in the recent years.

Mr. Spanswick is a 20 year veteran manager and owner of behavioral health hospitals and services who began his career in New Orleans, Louisiana. He received his MSW in Clinical Mental Health from Tulane University in Louisiana and had worked for five years in multiple inpatient psychiatric settings as a Director of Social Services. He later entered the Master of Hospital Administration Program at Tulane while simultaneously founding Paradym Health Systems, Inc., a psychiatric hospital management company, with Dr. Alan Jason Coe as partner.

Mr. Spanswick specializes on a dual diagnostic treatment modality which he gladly explained in the exclusive interview. In addition, he offered recommendations about finding the appropriate treatment for addiction, and talked bout what makes KLEAN Treatment Center different from the other recovery centers in terms of services and approaches.

To read the full text of the interview, please visit Klean Treatment Center: Exclusive Interview About Synthetic Drug Abuse & Treatment.

Substance Abuse

A Dangerous Drug Called 2C-I Claimed the Lives of Two Teenagers in North Dakota

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Two teenagers in North Dakota succumbed to a fatal drug overdose. The culprit, a drug called 2C-I or ‘Smiles.’

According to a Yahoo! Shine feature, the death of the 17-year old Elijah Stai, from Grand Forks, North Dakota, was blamed on a drug called 2C-1. Before his reported overdose, another teenager in the area was found face down on a side walk — his death also linked to the drug.

Unlike other drugs of abuse, there isn’t a lot of information available these days about the risks of 2C-I. However, first-hand accounts from users are said to be proliferating in Youtube which detail frightening experiences. In one Internet forum, a user apparently described the high as a “roller coaster ride through hell.”

The drug’s effects have been called a combination of MDMA and LSD, only far more potent.

Lindsay Wold, a detective with the Grand Forks police department, told Yahoo! Shine that her department had launched in July an awareness campaign aimed at cracking down 2C-I’s growing popularity with teens and young adults in the area.

One of the major challenges for authorities and health care providers in addressing the problem is that the new drug cannot be detected in a standard drug screening. Additionally, despite reports about the increasing drug overdoses associated with 2C-I, exact figures of abusers are difficult to measure.

“The unfortunate thing is if kids who are overdosing on 2C-I go in to the hospital with a physical problem, a lot of times they can’t test for it so it doesn’t show up as a drug overdose,” says Wold.

But just because the drug doesn’t show up in standard drug test, doesn’t mean its effects are far from being noticeable.  According to James Mowry, the director of Indiana’s Poison Control Center, 2-CI overdoses cause seizures, kidney failure, and fatally high blood pressure.

As of July 2012, the DEA has classified 2C-I as a Schedule 1 substance.