Medical Marijuana Workplace Testing

How Marijuana Legalization Affects Employers and Employees

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marijuana legalization drug testing construction industry

The legalization of marijuana has caused confusion as to how it could work best in the workplace setup. Marijuana legalization may have brought a sense of relief to both medical and recreational marijuana users. However, despite its legalization, employers are now facing issues regarding the policies of drug testing in the workplace.

The conundrum of legalizing cannabis and maintaining workplace safety has put business owners in a bind, finding themselves between crossroads on how to implement the workplace drug policies without having to deal with right-to-privacy issues regarding medical conditions of their employees.

On the other side of the fence, job applicants are now confused whether to submit themselves to the company’s drug testing policy or to decline the job. Should they agree to undergo drug testing and potentially be singled out as a drug user in case of a positive result?

Concerns with Marijuana Legalization

In this scenario, two major questions may be raised in relation to marijuana legalization:

  • Should there be a need to totally eradicate drug policies within the workplace?
  • How can employees be protected from potential termination or lawsuits?

Despite the advantages of marijuana legalization, this issue has become a burden on most employers. They need to come up with a solution about who to test, when to do the test, and if they should even implement drug testing in the workplace.

Lawmakers may have only focused on making marijuana legal to avoid prosecution of the users. However, it’s possible that they missed out on the aspect where the protection of the employers and employees should be considered. For employers, their main goal is to be able to sustain their respective businesses where their employees are able to work comfortably and safely, with high productivity.

No employer would tolerate drug use while working even if an employee is taking marijuana for medical purposes. Drug policies in the workplace were created to ensure that every employee is able to do his job and not to report to work under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

More than 70 percent of illicit drug users belong to the workforce. This is quite an alarming number considering that drug use while on the job would affect more than just lost productivity, but also increased health insurance claims and even death.

States with Legal Medical Marijuana Use

Each state has its own provisions with regards to drug testing in the workplace. However, under the federal law, employees working in certain industries are required to undergo drug testing. Such industries include aviation, transportation, mining, construction and sports.

marijuana legalization in the U.S.

Marijuana legalization in the United States has taken so many years before it was finally implemented on several states. The latest vote in November 8, 2016 added more states that started to adapt the legalization of marijuana use. As of that date, more than half of U.S. states already allow medical marijuana use. These include:

State Year Passed
Alaska 1998
Arizona 2010
Arkansas 2016
California 1996
Colorado 2000
Connecticut 2012
Delaware 2011
Florida 2016
Hawaii 2000
Illinois 2013
Maine 1999
Maryland 2014
Massachusetts 2012
Michigan 2008
Minnesota 2014
Montana 2004
Nevada 2000
New Hampshire 2013
New Jersey 2010
New Mexico 2007
New York 2014
North Dakota 2016
Ohio 2016
Oregon 1998
Pennsylvania 2016
Rhode Island 2006
Vermont 2004
Washington 1998
Washington,DC 2010

Each state has its own provisions in implementing marijuana legalization.

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada. These states allow adults aged 21 years and older to recreational use of marijuana but with provisions on the amount that they can use or buy, and can only purchase these through legitimate stores.

The state of California allows use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by individuals who have written recommendations by their physicians. Approved conditions to use medical marijuana include HIV/AIDS, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, muscular spasms, MS, and seizures. However, employers in California implement strict drug policies wherein they require employees to pass a drug test. Companies may decline employment to those who are found to be using marijuana even if it were for medical purposes.

Why Do Companies Implement Marijuana Drug Testing in the Workplace?

The reasons behind implementing drug testing procedures in line with marijuana legalization include the following:

  • To assure the safety for all employees
  • To save the company a lot of money from absenteeism and health insurance claims
  • To decrease crime within the workplace
  • To increase productivity
  • To improve health of employees
  • To enhance the morale within the workplace

However, some companies who need employees to work on heavy machinery now see marijuana drug testing as a hindrance in finding the right people to be employed. This is because applicants refuse to show up for drug tests. Pre-employment drug testing, although significant and beneficial, just seem to be an unwelcome thought for some applicants.

How Employers Should Handle Employee Marijuana Use

Employers are now experiencing a higher level of difficulty in looking for applicants to fill up their vacant job positions. This is due to the fact that some applicants would walk out in the middle of an interview once they are informed that drug testing will be a requirement in the hiring process. As a result, some employees would either disregard pre-employment drug testing or remove random drug testing policies among its current employees for fear of losing their best employees.

Fortunately, there are ways on how employers can best handle prospective employees with regards to marijuana use. These tips would be helpful to know how the company’s drug policies can still be implemented without having to step on anyone’s rights.

  1. Employers should be able to ask employees if they are taking any medication. With the employee’s right to privacy in mind, the employer must ensure that any medicine taken by the employee would not in any way interfere with the quality of work of the employee and that it should be used in a responsible manner.
  2. There may be certain employees who are using medical marijuana. Because of this, employers should think about reconsidering. The employee should, however, make sure that if there is a need to take medical cannabis during working hours, it should be done discreetly.
  3. Drug policies should be regularly reviewed, revised, and updated with regards to employee’s recreational use of marijuana. For instance, the policy should state that although recreational use of marijuana in the state may be allowed, but it should define whether the company will allow recreational marijuana use within the workplace.
  4. Completely banning employees who use marijuana in states where its use is legal may face some serious issues. Instead of focusing on cannabis use of an employee, the employer should instead monitor and put attention to the worker’s overall job performance. In industries where employees are operating heavy machinery, marijuana use should be strictly prohibited.
  5. Lunch and break times should not be a reason for employees to use marijuana for recreational purposes. While employers would want to respect the privacy of each employee during those times, employers need to be assured by the employees that they can work efficiently without having to take any psychoactive substance when working hours resume.

Rights and Responsibilities of Employers

When it comes to marijuana legalization and its impact in the workplace, employers need to accept the following rights and responsibilities:

  • Employers have the right to appoint and dismiss employees in accordance with company procedures. They should expect reasonable level of performance from their employees and provide a healthy and safe workplace.
  • Employers do not have the right to discriminate against existing or potential employees with regards to race, ethnicity and religion. They should also not allow sexual harassment or vilification to occur in the workplace.
  • Employers should assure that employees are not discriminated, harassed or violated in any way.
  • They should be responsible in educating all employees with regards to their responsibilities and behavioral standards that are acceptable in the workplace.

Rights and Responsibilities of Employees

Employees have their own rights that should be well recognized in terms of marijuana legalization, such as:

  • The right to a healthy and safe workplace
  • The right to any information about the hazards of the job
  • The right to file complaint should they find any workplace hazards
  • The right to not be discriminated, threatened, harassed or be treated differently

Meanwhile, every employee’s responsibility is to:

  • Read company policies and guidelines
  • Comply with applicable safety standards
  • Report any hazardous conditions to the employer
  • Work efficiently and give 100% compliance to assigned tasks
  • Report any job-related illnesses or injury and seek immediate treatment

Marijuana Drug Testing in the Workplace

Drug testing for weed may not be easy to implement for any employer. However, if a well-written company policy is presented to employees and job applicants to emphasize the safety and protection of every individual in the workplace, then this can create a more positive impact to every employee.

Pre-employment drug testing may not be reliable as one of the requirements for hiring an applicant because the presence of marijuana in the body may last for days. This means that an individual who may have stopped using marijuana for a week may still get a positive drug result. However, testing positive does not mean that an employee may produce poor work performance.

Understanding Drug Policies in the Workplace

marijuana legalization drug testing construction industry

It should be clearly written on the company’s drug policies when and what grounds would the company initiate drug testing to employees. It should also indicate the measures to be taken, should an employee be found to be positive with marijuana.

An employer may be free from any liabilities should he find out that an employee’s performance has been compromised due to working under the influence of marijuana or other substances. To create an effective system within your workplace, there are three important things that employers should do:

  1. Be fully aware of the state’s law regarding marijuana
  2. Review company’s policies regularly
  3. Enforce your company’s drug policy and request employees for strict compliance

Ultimately, employers should be able to effectively communicate with the employees. Not all employees may be aware of the state’s legalization of marijuana, which could allow the employer to set workers aside due to marijuana use. In other words, a thorough discussion on the effect of marijuana use and how it can affect performance in the workplace should be done, so that employees will be able to understand.

A drug policy should be part of any organization to ensure that all employees are aware about the dangers of using marijuana. The company policy should have the provision to give assistance to those who are found to be positive, and to educate supervisors to help them determine whether an employee is fit to work.

All in all, the company drug policy should be able to determine which of the workers may be working under the influence of cannabis. This can protect the entirety of the workforce and maintain a healthy and safe workplace for everyone in the company, even in the face of the growing trend of marijuana legalization.

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Substance Abuse

Everything You Need To Know About the Synthetic Drug 2C-B

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Drug addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain and causes habitual drug seeking despite its harmful effects to a drug user. It is considered as a disease because it has the ability to alter brain structure and function. In this article, we will discuss the synthetic drug 2C-B, why it is abused, how dangerous it is, and what you can do to help someone addicted to it.

The Drug Abuse Scenario

For the past 50 years, a lot of controlled substances have become very popular among individuals who use them as recreational drugs. Illicit drug use in the United States has been increasing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), due to substance abuse, the government spends more than $700M due to related crimes, health care and lost work productivity.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows an increasing incidence of drug use as well as how children as young as 12 years old have already been hooked in illicit substances. It is a frightening reality that no matter how much effort the government has exerted against illegal substance use, the number of users continues to increase every year.

Among the common controlled substances are designer drugs, which are made to mimic the effects of illegal substances to get away from prosecution. These substances are inexpensive alternatives to oft-abused drugs.

What is 2C-B?

2C-B is a psychedelic drug that comes from the 2C family. 2C is a general name referring to the family of psychedelic phenethylamines that contains the methoxy groups on 2 and 5 positions of the benzene ring.

The substance was first synthesized by American chemist Alexander Shulgin in 1974. He was also known to have synthesized more than 150 drugs, most of which are hallucinogens.

2c-b in powder form

2C-B is sold in the form of a white powder, and is sometimes pressed into tablets or gel capsules. Its street names include:

  • Bees
  • Nexus
  • Venus
  • Afterburner Bromo
  • Utopia
  • Spectrum
  • Toonies
  • MFT
  • Cloud Nine
  • Zenith

Law enforcement authorities have been able to seize various forms of 2C-B such as:

  • Pink, red or purple pills
  • Small, off-white, thick pills with a bullhead logo stamp
  • Off-white pills with brown specks
  • Clear, yellow or gray and blue capsules

Its drug classification is Schedule I since 1995. This substance is taken orally, vaporized or insufflated. Its effect is said to be more intense when snorted. Some users, however, consume 2C-B along with other illicit drugs like MDMA and LSD.

This is an illegal and dangerous drug that is becoming a huge concern not only in the US, but also in other countries. It was in 2004 when it started to appear on the streets as a red pill or orange powder.

Usual doses are 12-24 mg, and the effect lasts for a period between 4-8 hours.

History of 2C-B

It was in the 1970s when 2C-B was introduced to psychotherapists in the United States. It was later manufactured by a German company under the trade name Nexus. It was developed as a treatment for frigidity and impotence.

Thereafter, several other pharmaceutical companies marketed it under the names Performax and Eros. The U.S. became the largest market for 2C-B, which can be bought without prescription when it first arrived in local stores.

It was in 1993 when drug authorities were alarmed on how 2C-B has become a favorite among teens and young adults who frequented clubs and rave parties. Since it was not an illegal substance that time, it can be bought at video stores and head shops, nightclubs and bars. The drug was sold between $17-$25 per capsule.

Despite not being among the controlled substance during that time, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ordered the closure of manufacturing laboratories in California and Arizona.

It was in June 5, 1995 when 2C-B was placed under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It was placed under this category because it has been proven to have no medical use and has a high risk for abuse. It is currently banned in other countries such as Canada, France, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, and the U.K.

Why is 2C-B being abused?

2C-B is commonly abused by teens and young adults who regularly go to raves, concerts and music festivals. It is commonly taken with other designer drugs or club drugs such as GHB, ecstasy, ketamine, LSD and methamphetamine.

According to the DEA, there is a significant increase in usage of this substance in the United States. This substance is already popular in Germany, South Africa, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where much of the supply comes from.

Like the other mentioned club drugs, 2C-B produces several positive effects that club goers are after, such as:

  • Euphoria
  • Feeling of empathy
  • Enhanced visual perception
  • Closed and open-eye visuals
  • Feelings of insight
  • Increased giggling
  • Mental and physical stimulation
  • Eroticism
  • Increased access to spiritual ideation

The analgesic effect experienced in most psychedelic drugs is not present with 2C-B. However, users claim to feel heightened body awareness, and increased consciousness of both physical health and energy. According to Shulgin as published in an online resource, using 2C-B is a “superb tool for learning and growth”.

Individuals who snort 2C-B have been reported to experience extreme pain in their nasal passages and sinuses, which can last up to 30 minutes after ingestion. Oral ingestion, on the other hand, may also result to increased mucus production, which may eventually lead to cough and gastrointestinal distress.

Danger of 2C-B Use

Since 2000, there have been large quantities of this drug seized in different parts of the United States.

The effect of 2C-B has been found to be a cross between the effects of MDMA and LSD. It is mildly psychedelic but may result to a psychological disorder with higher doses. The effects are unpredictable, and may even make a user more violent than usual.

When 2C-B has been used for a longer period of time and in higher doses, it may result to the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Fear and panic
  • Tension
  • Muscle twitching
  • Sweating/chills
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Unwanted and overwhelming feelings
  • Unpleasant visions

At low doses of 4-6 mg, it may give a relaxing effect to the user. At higher doses of 30 mg, 2C-B is extremely hallucinogenic and can be frightening. The effect may last up to 12 hours.

2C-B is believed to be 10 times more potent than MDMA (ecstasy).

The drug works by distorting the normal functions of the brain, whereby people under the influence of this substance may experience intense emotional swings. Hearing, vision and tactile sensations may also be altered.

Ingesting 8-10 mg of 2C-B may cause a stimulating effect and lead to an intoxicated state.

It is highly not advisable for individuals who are on monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) anti-depressants. Individuals who may be suffering from depression or psychosis may experience psychotic syndrome, panic attacks, visual illusions and depersonalization.

Long-term regular use may result to extended feelings of fatigue, anxiety and disorientation.

Here are the effects of 2C-B in different stages:

  • Onset: 20-90 minutes
  • Coming up: 15-30 minutes
  • Plateau: 2-3 hours
  • Coming down: 2 hours
  • After effects: 2-4 hours

Signs and Symptoms of 2C-B use

As earlier mentioned, 2C-B use may produce positive effects, which cause some people to consciously engage into this kind of drug. However, it may also present other signs and symptoms like:

  • Change in body temperature regulation
  • Pupil dilation
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Change in perception of time
  • Unusual thoughts and speech
  • General change in consciousness
  • Flushing, chills

These symptoms may be experienced even at low doses. Some of these signs may last up to 6 hours and then drop off dramatically. The user may immediately feel an instant mood swing as soon as the effect wears off.

Detection and Testing for 2C-B Use

The Marquis reagent is a presumptive test for amphetamine-type compounds, MDMA and opium alkaloid, and can also be able to detect 2C-B. Positive result from the test will produce a bright green color. Originally, this reagent was designed to test for the mentioned drugs, which can be identified according to the color result such as:

  • Orange to purple: Positive for heroin
  • Black: Positive for MDMA
  • Orange to brown: Positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine

Despite the availability of drug testing methods and home testing kits, authorities pose concern with regards to the distribution of 2C-B as it is consistently expanding. The emergence of 2C-B throughout the United States suggests that it is again being sold to the existing wide network of MDMA users.

Treatment for 2C-B Use

Since 2C-B produces similar effects as MDMA, the proper management of individuals who have been found to become highly dependent on 2C-B follows the same treatment as with MDMA users. The treatment can take place as either in-patient or out-patient. However, it is best recommended to have the user admitted in an institution so that his health may be monitored better.

Medication such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be helpful in addressing 2C-B addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms from 2C-B use may most likely be the same as withdrawal from ecstasy such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

With these symptoms present, it is likely that a user may become violent, which may lead to hurting others or himself. When this happens, minor sedation may be appropriate to help the patient to calm down. Treatment may last from a few weeks to several months.

Apart from this, psychological counseling may also be needed because with prolonged use of the drug, it could have affected the normal functions of the brain. As a result, this may need months of psychological reconstruction.

Even after the patient has been discharged, an after-care program that includes sessions with family members and loved ones should continue. This is very helpful for the complete recovery of the patient and to prevent from having a relapse.

There have been no reported fatalities associated with 2C-B use, but it is something that we should not rejoice about. It is still best to become more vigilant with the things around us and to report suspicious personalities or activities to the authorities.

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Substance Abuse

Synthetic Drug 2C-B Alarms Canadian Authorities

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After an influx of synthetic drugs that proliferate in society, another illegal substance has emerged in Canada. The psychedelic drug 2C-B recently figured in the news due to 6 overdose incidents in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

According to addiction counselor Rand Teed, 2C-B must have been in existence in Saskatchewan for many years, but it was only very recently that it hit the news. The effects of the drug to users in the past may not have been this serious to cause alarm.

In the news item, a man was charged with criminal negligence after he was found to carry the substance that caused serious health issues to 6 individuals.

Drug Analysis Service laboratories director Benoit Archamabault said that the lab handles about 120,000 drug samples, of which 85% of the positive results are found with cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis. Roughly 15% of the samples are found to have designer drugs.

2C-B was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, an American chemist in 1974. This drug was intended as treatment for patients suffering from psychological disorders. However, 2C-B has been found to become popular among people and used it as a recreational drug. Its effect is said to be similar to LSD and ecstasy.

It is possible that the people rushed to the hospital for 2C-B overdose were unaware of the kind of drug that they took, or they may have mistaken it for ecstasy.

[Image by Retinafunk via Flickr]


Benefits and Dangers of Taking Kava

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kava plant leaf alternative medicine

One of the folk medicines commonly used by South Pacific Islanders is a root called Kava or kava kava. In this article, we will discuss some of the important information about this emerging plant-based substance, its effects to human health, and the buzz surrounding it.

What is Kava?

Kava is also known as piper methysticum. Its roots and stems are made into non-alcoholic beverages commonly enjoyed socially and in ceremonies for many centuries in Fiji, Hawaii and Tonga.

Due to its calming effect, its action is very much similar to anti-anxiety drug like diazepam. It also has the ability to prevent convulsions and aid in muscle relaxation. Kava is prepared as a tea, and is also available in powder or tincture forms.

Kava is also known in the following names:

  • Lewena
  • Yaqona
  • Grog
  • Sakau
  • ‘awa
  • ‘ava
  • Wati

Kava comes in different forms such as:

  • Drops
  • Extracts
  • Capsules
  • Brownish-colored drinks
  • Brown powder

Uses of Kava

The calming effect from taking kava may relieve the following conditions:

  • Stress-related symptoms such as muscle tension and spasm
  • Restlessness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Migraine
  • Epilepsy
  • Leprosy (skin application)
  • Muscle pain
  • Venereal disease

What is good about kava is that when it is used to treat anxiety or stress, it does not interfere with mental sharpness. Kava contains compounds that are responsible for the psychoactive qualities in the brain that offers a non-narcotic action against anxiety. This means that it is safe to use compared to the usual prescribed antidepressants.

Duke University Medical Center discovered in a study that apart from it being effective is that it doesn’t produce dependence or adverse effects in blood pressure, heart rate or sexual function. It is a good candidate for future research as treatment in improving attention disorders in children.

Another study showed that kava may be helpful for women who are going through menopause. One of the significant symptoms of menopausal women is having mood swings. Using kava may somehow help them to have a more pleasant mood without affecting the therapeutic actions of estrogen. It was also found out that it has helped increased libido among menopausal women.

The government spends a huge budget in treating addiction. Some studies have shown that using kava as a treatment for addiction may be an effective and inexpensive solution. Kava can help in reducing drug cravings with the help of a compound called kavapyrones.

When it is taken as a sleep aid, it generally promotes deep sleep without affecting restful REM sleep.

The only thing that should be strictly avoided is taking kava with alcohol, which may produce unfavorable effects like impaired reflexes, increased drowsiness and risk of liver damage. Meanwhile, taking kava with antidepressant induces sedation.

How is Kava prepared?

Kava is prepared by placing both roots and stem into a sack, submerging them in water, and squeezing out its juice into a bowl. The liquid extract may be placed in individual cups for drinking.

Its effect is experienced shortly after taking one to two cups. It has an earthy flavor which may take time to get used to.

How safe is Kava?

Experts in studying kava recommend using it not more than three months; otherwise, it may lead to liver failure. Prior to taking kava, you should be aware of the following facts:

  • It is strictly not allowed to take kava along with alcohol or any kind of psychotropic medications because they can exaggerate the sedative effects of the plant-based substance.
  • The effect of kava may differ in every individual. Therefore, it may be unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery when kava has been taken.
  • The effect of kava may decrease with prolonged use.
  • Although kava may provide some relief on certain conditions, one of its common side effects is the yellowing of the hair, skin and nails.
  • It may also cause some allergic skin reactions.

Long-term use of kava may lead to:

  • Liver problems
  • Scaly rash (but can be treated using topical ointments)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Facial swelling
  • Alteration of blood cells
  • Reduced immunity to infection
  • Visual changes
  • Kidney damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • May worsen symptoms of pre-existing mental disorder
  • Loss of drive and motivation

The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) warns individuals who may already have liver problems to consult with their doctors prior to taking kava supplements. Liver disease may cause dark-colored urine and at the same time may have yellowing of both skin and the sclera of the eyes.

Being a depressant, kava is not advised to be taken by the following:

  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding mother
  • People with pre-existing heart, liver or lung problems
  • People who are driving or operating heavy machineries

The effect of kava depends on the following factors:

  • The age, weight and overall health
  • If taken with other medications
  • The amount of kava taken
  • The strength of kava

Benefits of Kava

Kava is seen to be a great alternative to traditional medication to treat the following:

  • Reduction of tumor size found in the prostate due to certain elements found in kava that inhibits the growth of some deficient cell lines.
  • Improvement of the immune system because of the presence of flavokawains extract with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Kava has been reported to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties by enhancing antitumor immunity.
  • It is a non-hypnotic anxiolytic that can treat anxiety.
  • It aids in enjoying better sleep.

Disadvantages of Kava

Kava may provide relief on certain conditions however if it is inadvertently used, such negative effects ensue.

  • There is a possibility for kava to be abused, with reports saying that some people are using kava for recreational purposes.
  • Using herbal medicine along with retroviral drugs may cause viral resistance.
  • There have been reports of liver problems in individuals taking kava even for a short period of time. It is recommended to undergo frequent liver tests to ensure that the liver is healthy.
  • It may be unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery when you have taken kava with alcohol as it aggravates the effect of sedation, which may cause vehicular accidents.


Kava is a relatively new substance that is gaining traction as alternative medication. While the substance is legal in the U.S., users should be aware of the pros and cons of using kava for their health concerns.

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[Image from Forest & Kim Starr]

Health & Wellness

Prescriptions For Step Count: Effective Type 2 Diabetes Treatment?

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type 2 diabetes treatment step count prescription

Traditional treatment for conditions such as type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases focused mainly on different kinds of medication to prevent further progression. However, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (RIMUHC) discovered that a step-count prescription with combined medication can produce significant health benefits.

According to the study, people are recommended to walk 10,000 steps daily to be able to experience its health benefits. Those who are walking under 5,000 steps are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Physicians would usually provide instructions on how to take the medications and would advice their patients to incorporate daily exercise to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. A 30-minute walk daily can already make a huge impact towards health. By providing patients with pedometers, it may be easier to quantify the daily physical activity most especially on patients who do not go to the gym or incorporate running in their daily routine.

The team of researchers led by Dr, Kaberi Dasgupta, a physician researcher at the RIMUHC discovered the effectiveness of issuing real prescriptions for physical activity via step count. “As physicians, we have to face the reality and admit that for many patients, just telling them be more physically active simply doesn’t work. The idea in this study is to use step counts almost as a medication,” Dasgupta said in a news release.

The study involved 364 patients and 74 doctors from various hospitals in Montreal. All patients continued with their usual medical routine, but some of the patients were given step count prescriptions and a pedometer. After one year, the results showed that patients who were given a step count prescription had 1,200 steps more per day than those who were not.  A very significant decrease in blood sugar levels were found among patients with type 2 diabetes.

Substance Abuse

Heroin Overdose Deaths Tripled in Five Years, Says New CDC Study

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heroin overdose needle

In its latest report regarding drug overdose fatalities in the U.S., the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that the percentage of deaths due to heroin overdose tripled from 2010 to 2015.

The office — which forms part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services — discovered that drug overdose fatalities involving heroin use jumped from 8 percent in 2010 to 25 percent five years later. The study, led by Dr. Holly Hedegaard, based their findings on data available from the National Vital Statistics System, as reported in a data brief from CDC.

This finding on heroin overdose deaths mirrors the extent of the drug problem in general, as the study reports an increase in drug-related deaths for all types of substances from 2010 (6.1 percent) to 2015 (16.3 percent).

In terms of demographics, people between 45 and 54 years of age registered the highest drug overdose death rates at 30 in every 100,000.

Aside from data on heroin abuse, deaths due to natural opioid drug use dipped from 29 percent to 24 percent over the same five-year period. Unfortunately, fatalities due to synthetic opioid use shot up from 8 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2015.

Death rates due to drug overdose were highest in West Virginia at 41.5 for every 100,000 people, followed by New Hampshire and Kentucky.

[Image from richiec via Wikimedia Creative Commons]

Substance Abuse

Things You Need To Know About the Party Drug Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)

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GHB date rape drug

No matter how widespread the campaign is against drug abuse and its unfavorable effects, a lot of people still find themselves getting involved in it. What makes it alarming is how kids as young as 14 years old are getting hooked on it, and what make is even worse is that the drugs are getting more dangerous. Some of the emerging substances rounding public places include party drugs, and one of which is called Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB).

In this article, we will discuss what this drug is, what its dangers are, and how to handle cases of GHB use.

Quick Statistics on Drug Use

According to the Monitoring The Future Survey, close to 40 percent of 12th graders living in medical marijuana states have used marijuana at least once in the past year.

What has caused these anti-drug campaigns to fall? Fingers are pointing to several factors which include the following:

  • Underfunded law enforcement
  • Unsuccessful government programs
  • Irresponsible media content
  • Inefficiency of drug prevention programs

A Brief History of Drug Use

It was in the late 1960s when drug use started to gain popularity among young adults. They were unaware of what marijuana can truly do to their health. What people were told about marijuana was not about acquiring any psychological addiction but rather about the physical symptoms such as having acne, as well as causing sterility and blindness. This kind of information was not effective enough to provide the message that should be relayed to the general public with regards to marijuana use. Instead of staying away from the substance, people must have shrugged their shoulders and just continued using marijuana.

It was in the 1970s when people are slowly realizing that drugs particularly marijuana, has become a social problem. Along with this is the slowly increasing popularity of other drugs.

By 1980s, crack cocaine use became a terrifying problem as it was very cheap and in abundant supply. It allegedly gave a different kind of high compared to other drugs.

In the 1990s, $17.1 billion dollars was set for funding the anti-drug campaign. This financial support was based on the fact that 34 percent of Americans have admitted trying marijuana.

It was also during this period when an upswing in club drugs or party drugs was even more frightening, Ecstasy and crystal meth have become the most popular drugs among teenagers. Years later, several other drugs came into the scene such as synthetic drugs.

What is Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)?

GHB molecular structure

Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid, is both a naturally occurring neurotransmitter and a psychoactive drug. It is commonly used as a general anesthetic and as a treatment for narcolepsy and alcoholism. It has also been used as a performance-enhancing drug and a date-rape drug.

This drug mimics the GABA neurotransmitter of the brain by regulating consciousness, activity, and sleep. It has a significant effect in improving mood, thereby promoting a feeling of relaxation.

It can be produced from fermentation that can be found in minute quantities found in wines and beers.

It is produced by illegal labs and comes out in the form of an odorless and colorless liquid. It is considered as a designer drug because it was intentionally made for the purpose of creating an unusual “high” effect on users.

Street names of GHB include the following:

  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Cups
  • G
  • Georgia Home Boy
  • Liquid X
  • Juice
  • Mils
  • Fantasy

The U.S. Food and Drug Authority (FDA) issued an advisory in 1990 declaring that GHB is unsafe and illegal, except under FDA-approved physician-supervised protocol.

On a legl standpoint, GHB is also known as Xyrem or sodium oxybate, a prescription drug approved by the FDA in 2002 used for treatment of narcolepsy. As sodium oxybate, it is currently listed under Schedule III, and requires patient enrollment. In addition, only certain physicians who carry special licenses are allowed to prescribe this drug.

However, GHB in its pure form is categorized as Schedule I due to its potential for abuse.

How is GHB used?

GHB in liquid or powder form is mixed with water or is taken as a tablet. In the medical field, it is used as a treatment for narcolepsy and alcoholism. It also sometimes used for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Sodium oxybate is used for the treatment of cataplexy that is associated in narcolepsy.

GHB can be both a stimulant and a depressant, depending on the amount of GHB used. At lower doses, it can be a stimulant. However, higher doses may result to any of the following effects:

  • Enhanced libido
  • Euphoria
  • Disinhibition

GHB has become the drug of choice for those who have illegal intentions towards women.  In 1999, it was found out that among 1,178 urine samples from victims of suspected rape involving drugs, 4 percent were found to be positive for GHB. However, the number may be even higher because the samples were taken 72 hours after the incident. GHB disappears from the blood stream after 12 hours.

Statistics of GHB use

GHB has been listed under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act since 2000. All substances under this category are said to have no medical use and have high potential for abuse.

The following are some facts related to GHB use:

  • GHB is one of the most common date rape drugs. Among other date rape drugs are rohypnol and ketamine.
  • Since 1990, there have been about 15,600 recorded overdose cases in the US.
  • About 3 people die of GHB overdose annually.
  • About 80% of the victims of an unwanted GHB encounter are below 30 years old.
  • GHB is sold for as little as $5 per dose and packed in plastic bottles.
  • GHB use resulted to 4,962 emergency room visits in 2000.
  • GHB use among grades 8, 10, and 12 are at 0.6%, 0.6% and 1.4% respectively.
  • GHB with alcohol use accounted to more than 60 deaths from January 1992 to May 2001

Dangers of Using GHB

The favorable effects of taking GHB include euphoria, tranquility and an increased sex drive. However, its effect may depend on the amount of drugs used, the potency of the substance, use in combination with alcohol or other substances, and the frequency of using the drugs.

The effects of GHB may be felt within 15-20 minutes after ingestion and may remain in the system for hours. Symptoms that may occur on individuals using GHB include:

  • Sweating
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion
  • Amnesia
  • Sluggishness
  • Confusion
  • Clumsiness
  • Agitation
  • Depressed breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

Using GHB along with alcohol or other sedatives produces a high chance of overdose, and may result to respiratory depression and even death. When GHB is only taken alone but in high doses, it can still lead to similar dangers. GHB when taken with amphetamines can produce strain on the body and a higher risk of having seizures.

GHB has become popular along with other party drugs, and is made available in doses between 500mg and 3000 mg compared to its naturally occurring levels.

GHB has a high risk of abuse and dependence. Tolerance to such drugs will evoke the user to take higher doses until he is able to achieve the kind of high that he desires and potentially overdosing himself. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Irritation
  • Agitation
  • Sweating
  • Irregular breathing
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness that can last up to 3-4 hours
  • Death

The effects of GHB in pregnant women are still undetermined.

GHB Screening Test for Urine

Detection of the substance within the system of an individual may be difficult to determine, as it usually disappears from a sample within 12 hours after exposure to the drug. As a result, it is recommended to immediately go to the nearest hospital to have samples taken if you suspect of being drugged with GHB.

You also have the option to purchase your own GHB testing kits. Some of the available test kits on the market include the following:

  • Date Rape Drug Hair Test: This is the only hair drug test in the market that can detect GHB and other date rape drugs. It can detect the presence of the drug as far back as 6 months from exposure.
  • GHB Reagent Presumptive Drug Test Kit: This kit detects the liquid form of the drug, and is particularly useful when you want to test a liquid substance that you suspect to be loaded with GHB.

woman bar date rape drug GHB

GHB Treatment

Party drug addiction offers little information on treatment options. Since some users are not physically dependent on it, it is usually treated on an outpatient basis. However, chronic use may result to severe withdrawal symptoms, and close medical supervision and supportive care is needed.

The first step towards recovery is detoxification by allowing the substance to be taken out from the body little by little. Some forms of detoxification may require giving high volume of fluids to eliminate the substance from the urine through frequent excretion. Anticonvulsant may also be given to users but under strict medical supervision.

Some addicts may attempt to self-medicate for their treatment by using benzodiazepines or alcohol. It doesn’t actually help to relieve one from addiction; instead, it just shifts to another substance. Use of these substances can actually worsen the withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to respiratory depression, coma and eventually death.

The following withdrawal symptoms usually start 12 hours after the last dose of GHB, and can continue for the next two weeks:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tremors
  • Restless sleep
  • Fast heartbeat

Hospitalization would usually range from 7 to 14 days. After this, a patient is required to undergo psychological therapy. This would help the user regain his self-esteem and be enlightened that there is a much better life without drugs. Apart from sending the patient to a psychiatrist for this kind of help, the love and support from family and friends are also needed.

It has been noted that Baclofen can be a possible treatment option for withdrawal. Although Baclofen is not a currently-FDA approved for treatment use, it was found to decrease seizure or delirium and has a significant improvement of tremors.

A relapse is likely to happen in dependence cases, which is why continuous patient education is essential to overcome its adverse effects.


The war on drugs is something that we don’t see ending soon. As more drugs are being developed, more people will be enticed to abuse them.

Unless the government finds a way to provide solutions, drug abuse will continue regardless of its unfavorable effects. Policies and penalties should be strictly imposed and a more comprehensive drug education program should be created to help save the lives of the depleting “un-doped” society.

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Substance Abuse

Teen Substance Abuse Potential May Be Determined By Brain Scan

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teen substance abuse brain scan

Scientists have discovered a new way to determine potential drug addicts at a young age. According to a recent study, by predicting the response of the brain to rewards at 14 years old, they can predict possible teen substance abuse.

A research conducted by students from Stanford University revealed that lower activity in the motivational regions of the brain while responding to a reward could help determine teenagers who are vulnerable to drug abuse.

The Stanford University research involved 144 novelty-seeking adolescents aged 14 to 16. According to the study, these kinds of behavior, which arise from impulsive and rash decisions, can be dangerous as it can lead to risky behavior. At the same time, it can also have benefits as it encourages adolescents to discover and explore new opportunities.

However, it is still unclear whether this behavior can help predict positive or negative behavior towards illegal drugs. According to the study, 14-year old teenagers who demonstrated reduced motivational activity in response to a financial reward are likely to become drug dependents by age 16.

By using brain scans, it will be much easier to target those who are prone to teen substance abuse and help them before they become addicted to illegal drugs. In a recent interview, Professor Brian Knutson revealed that although some kids may be vulnerable to substance abuse, there are exceptions. “If we had ways of predicting who was vulnerable, the hope is that we could better target resources and treatments,” Knutson said.

“It is possible that the brain scans could become a part of conventional medicine… But only if they do as good as or a better job of predicting and recommending treatment as other measures, and are cost effective.” Knutson added.

Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

Is Kratom Safer Than Oxycodone For Pain Management?

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kratom vs. oxycodone

People who experience pain tend to look for an alternative that they think would provide them the relief that they need, while at the same causing fewer adverse effects with long term use. Oxycodone has risen as one of the default drugs used for pain treatment, but the controversial substance called kratom is slowly taking some of the glory. In fact, some people have become curious as to whether the plant-based substance is a lot safer than oxycodone.

Treating Chronic Pain Using Oxycodone

Chronic pain is a type of body sensation that lasts for months. Knowing which medicine to use for chronic pain depends on the following:

  • Duration
  • Severity
  • Cause

It has become common for oxycodone – listed under Schedule II – to be prescribed for people who experience moderate to severe pain. It is given for round-the-clock treatment to ensure that the patient is immediately relieved from pain and that there is little to no window of possible pain in between treatments.

However, prolonged used of oxycodone may be habit-forming. It can eventually turn into addiction that may lead to overdose or even death. Worse, immediately stopping oxycodone use may result to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

The Rising Trend of Kratom For Pain Management

Some people have resorted to using kratom to help with chronic pain. At present, kratom is not listed among the controlled substances.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently asked the public regarding their opinion on a proposed kratom ban with the hope that it can finally decide if kratom should be listed as a Schedule I drug. The verdict: Almost all of the respondents opposed the ban.

According to Dr. Anace Said, a board-certified internist at the Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford, Connecticut, the plant drug is much safer than some of the medically prescribed drugs. He has used it in treating patients with drug addiction and mentioned in a news article that a few of his patients have stopped using opioids and are now stable and use individualized dose that the patient decides on.

The only downfall of it is that using kratom may take the control away from the doctors, government agencies and drug companies. He added that there have been no recorded deaths among those who have used kratom.

Final Word

Kratom may be more favorable than using oxycodone because of its effects that are not as unfavorable as oxycodone. Despite this, further studies still need to be conducted to determine the safety and therapeutic benefits of kratom.

Substance Abuse

Everything You Need To Know About Meldonium

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Mildronate meldonium chemical structure

Information about the drug meldonium may be few and far between in the past, but everything changed after the failed drug test of Maria Sharapova which shocked the tennis world in 2016. The five-time Grand Slam Champion tested positive for the substance in a drug test conducted during the 2016 Australian Open.

Apparently, Sharapova has been taking the said drug in 2006 as she it was prescribed by her doctor due to irregular heart rate, deficiency in magnesium, and blood glucose level monitoring stemming from a family history of diabetes. According to Sharapova, she was unaware that meldonium was among the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) until she was given a letter regarding her failed drug test from the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Sharapova was suspended from playing tennis for the next two years by the ITF.

In April 2016, her suspension has been decreased because her use of meldonium was not an intention to enhance her performance but rather was taken to help treat her medical condition.

What is Meldonium?

It is a substance that has been developed in 1970 by Ivars Kalvins which was manufactured by Grindeks of Latvia. It is mainly distributed as an anti-ischemic drug. Meldonium is widely used in both Latvia and Russia and has no FDA approval for consumption in the United States.

WADA’s list of banned substances released in January 2016 included meldonium. It does not belong to any of the scheduled drugs, and therefore its use as an athletic performance enhancer is yet to be determined. Prior to the inclusion of meldonium to the list, several athletes have already been using it.

Scientific Director of the Banned Control Substances Group Don Catlin has strongly announced that meldonium has zero percent evidence of being a performance enhancer drug. There is a continuing debate regarding its real effects on an individual.

WADA has included meldonium among other banned substances because it increases the blood flow of the individual, which subsequently provides more endurance. The drug falls under the category “metabolic modulator”.

Uses of Meldonium

Being an anti-ischemic drug, meldonium is used for the treatment of coronary artery diseases since this condition constricts the blood vessels thereby allowing little blood flow to the different organs of the body, most especially the heart. The main action of an anti-ischemic drug is to help dilate the arteries to help increase blood flow and at the same time increase the flow of oxygen throughout the body.

Meldonium has also been found to be effective in the treatment of seizures as well as having an anti-hypnotic effect. It may also be helpful in decreasing the withdrawal symptoms being experienced by an individual with chronic alcohol dependence.

Side Effects from Meldonium Use

The use of meldonium to treat ischemic heart conditions has been proven to be an advantage. However, just like most drugs, there may be unfavorable symptoms that are likely to happen such as:

  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Allergic reactions
  • Irregular skin conditions
  • Indigestion

Prevalence Among Athletes

meldonium tennis drug testing

According to the laboratory findings at the Baku 2015 European Games, a large number of athletes were using meldonium. Among the athletes that competed, 13 competition winners were taking meldonium at the time of the competition and were competing in 15 to 20 events.

Most of the athletes taking the substance did not inform the anti-doping authorities about their use. There were only 32 athletes out of 662 athletes who declared their use of the said substance.

Meldonium has been classified the same way as insulin because of its ability to modify how hormones alter the enzymatic reactions in the body, which can block the production of estrogen.

The allowable amount of meldonium should be less than 1 mcg/ml for tests done before March 1, 2016. Research have shown that traces of meldonium may be evident in blood samples for a long period of time. As a result, stopping the use of the substance a few days to a week before a competition would still yield a positive result.

WADA further states that the intention to cheat is not required to find an athlete to be in violation of the WADA Code. This means that whether intentional or not, for as long as athletes were tested positive for this banned substance, they will all be liable. The athlete’s participation with competitions may be affected, resulting to a standard ban of four years.

Other Athletes Suspended For Meldonium Use

Sharapova’s positive drug test result for meldonium may have been sensationalized because of her excellence in the sport. However, there were several other athletes that have been found positive with meldonium.

Alexander Povetkin

The Russian professional boxer with a two-time World Boxing Association Heavyweight Championship title was found positive with meldonium in May 2016. It was only a week prior to a match set with WBA Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder. Because of this discovery, the match has been postponed indefinitely by the WBC.

In August, WBC cleared Povetkin from the case saying that it was impossible to prove that Povetkin ingested meldonium after it was included among the list of banned substance released in January 1, 2016. According to Povetkin, he has stopped using meldonium. He was advised to take a second drug test after 12 months at his own expense.

In related news, Povetkin tested positive for enobosarm in his B sample taken in December 2016 forhis bout with Bermane Stiverne.

Abeba Aregawi

Abeba Aregawa is an Ethiopian-Swedish athlete who was found positive with meldonium, leading to his suspension on February 2016. According to her, she took the medication after the release of the list, thinking that it was a vitamin supplement.

Endershaw Negesse

This Tokyo Marathon Winner is among several athletes from Ethiopia who tested positive for meldonium. WADA suspects that a doctor may be involved in the transportation of the drug to Ethiopia.

Eduard Vorganov

The Russian professional road bicycle rider was suspended in February 2016 together with other athletes from Team Katusha. However, in August 2016, an amnesty were given to athletes found positive with meldonium as there was not enough evidence to prove that they were still taking the substance a few months after the release of the latest list of banned substances. It was announced that Vorganov has joined the Minsk Cycling Team in 2017.

Olga Abramova

This Ukranian athlete is banned for 1 year after testing positive for meldonium two weeks after the release of the list of banned substances. She was not given amnesty like the rest of the athletes who were found to be positive with meldonium because the level of meldonium found in her system was 7 times more than the permissible level.

More Information About WADA

WADA is an international independent agency funded by sports agencies and governments around the world that help in education, scientific research, development of anti-doping capacities and monitoring policies implemented related to sports in all countries.

The agency was established in 1999 to address the alarming number of athletes getting involved with drugs with the intention of misleading the public regarding with their strength and capabilities. Among the list of banned substances and techniques include the following:

  • Androgens
  • Blood doping
  • Peptide hormones
  • Diuretics
  • Stimulants
  • Narcotics
  • Cannabinoids

Blood doping is the injection of red blood cells or artificial oxygen containers. This technique is done by extracting the individual’s own blood prior to a competition to allow the body to replenish fresh red blood cells thereafter injecting back the stored blood before the competition.

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