Will Your Teen’s Prom Become a Statistic?

As we welcome April with open arms, enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather, many young people across America are also welcoming end-of-the-school-year celebrations that are right around the corner! Popular events like prom are exciting times for young people when many fond memories are made. Sadly, as years pass, we find that prom has a dark side: alcohol related accidents and deaths. According to the NCADD, “alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s youth and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.” The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported that in 2001, 1,012 children under 21 died of alcohol-related traffic incidents in the months of April, May and June alone. Although young people turn to alcohol for any number of reasons, now is a crucial time to raise awareness on underage drinking to ensure that your child is safe during the upcoming prom season. The combination of prom and alcohol is often seen as a rite of passage for teens. For many of them it is their first opportunity to experiment with alcohol and parents feel as though their children are safe drinking, as long as they are not driving. However, underage alcohol consumption can still be lethal even if they are not driving. Many adolescents are unaware of the consequences of drinking. Drinking a large amount of alcohol can cause loss of consciousness and all control over what happens to his or her body. Drinking too much too fast can cause alcohol poisoning, which could in turn lead to death. Alcohol consumption at a young age could also set...

“Drive With Reason” This Holiday Season

Who’s responsibility is it to be sure people are driving safely and are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Yours! And mine! Statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System show that although the number of people killed in the US in car accidents has declined, the number of accidents involving drugs, both legally prescribed medications and illegal drugs, has increased 6 percent over the past 6 years. Whether this is due to an increase in the use of prescription and over the counter medications or illegal drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, isn’t clear.  What is clear is that many of us don’t think that being impaired by drugs will affect our driving. Did you know that some antihistamines can impact your driving? Especially if you have a drink or two on top of taking the medication. Some people think that smoking a joint won’t affect your ability to drive. It’s not as bad as drunk driving, right? Wrong! It is well known that some drugs can impair your motor coordination, reaction time and visual perception. One in four fatally injured drivers under the age of 25 tested positive for marijuana! If you are a parent, lay down the law and let your teenage or young adult driver know that it’s not OK to drive while under the influence of anything that can impair your judgement, not even a little bit. If you need to, have your teen drug tested to be sure they are following your rules. A “Trust, But Verify” policy can save your child’s life or the lives of others on the road. If you are...

Is the Drug-Free Workplace Act Working?

Has your employer instituted a Drug-Free Workplace policy yet? According to the American Council for Drug Education, since the act was passed in 1988, more than half (57%) of all employers have begun drug testing all employee. Even though the act did not mandate drug testing, federal agencies started testing soon after the act was passed to provide safe workplaces and many private organizations followed suit. So whether employees like it or not, drug testing is here to stay.  Studies show that drug testing deters drug use in the workplace and employers are trying to protect themselves in our litigious society. Due to drug testing, drug use in the workplace has declined 74% in the past 25 years.  If someone is hurt because an employee was using drugs on the job, it is possible that the employer will be sued. Florida’s death rate from prescription drug use has also fallen due to stricter drug laws for prescribing pain medications, such as oxycodone, one of the most addictive prescription drugs on the market. This provides hope that drug testing, drug-free workplace policies and stricter prescribing laws and enforcement of those laws can save lives, not only for those who use drugs themselves, but for those who are put at risk by others’ use. You may not like a policy of drug testing, but you most likely appreciate being safer from the effects of drug abuse and misuse! Written by www.labtestingnow.com...

K2 and Spice Shops Looking for “Workarounds”

Recent laws banning synthetic cannabinoids have really put a cramp in the businesses of “incense” resellers.  They aren’t wasting any time moving on to the next legal compound to get people high.  Although Spice and K2 are marketed as incense with clear warning labels that the product is not meant for human consumption, no one is fooled and people are buying it and smoking it everywhere.  The herb that the chemical compound is sprinkled on doesn’t matter and it doesn’t have the stink of marijuana so it is more difficult for police to detect.  In addition each package may contain a different amount of a compound or even a different compound regardless of how it’s been labeled.  Tests have been developed that can be used to determine if someone has been using Spice or K2, which is based on a formula called JWH-018 or other similar formulas, but it is not part of a standard drug test so medical personnel need to know what they are looking for and have access to the specific test. Many states have banned a class of these synthetic cannabinoids that may include up to 7 different compounds.  In the meantime people who sell the “incense” are busy looking for the next synthetic drug to market and sell.  In their world, it’s just a matter of switching out and testing other chemicals so they can keep selling cheap drugs that aren’t yet illegal, but which may be incredibly dangerous.  The number of emergency room visits through May of 2011 is over 2000 and on track to be double those of 2010.  Hallucinations, rapid heart rate, agitation,...

Medical Marijuana Users Not Protected From Employer Drug Testing

Even for the states that have legalized marijuana for medical use under the Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA), people who are taking advantage of the law are still at risk from their employers.  The act is intended to protect medical users from arrest but the protection does not extend to private businesses.  In at least 2 separate instances employees who were using marijuana for medical purposes were required to submit to drug tests for their employment and were subsequently fired.  Even though both of these people informed their employers about their medical use of marijuana and had supporting evidence from their doctors, the companies still followed through with their corporate policies. For people suffering from chronic pain or undergoing cancer treatment, marijuana can make a huge difference.  The talk show host, Montel Williams, has suffered with Multiple Sclerosis for years and found relief from constant neurological pain with marijuana.  He says that it improved his health and well being.  He supports this as a treatment so much that he is opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento, CA that he claims will be professional with a focus on patient care.  It’s truly sad that these sufferers are punished when they have found a treatment that works for them and enables them to function well enough to go back to work.  True medical use of marijuana does not provide an exemption for employers concerned with sticking stringently to the rules but it should.  Their lack of compassion in our “Drug Free” world is cruel and unacceptable. Written by...

Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients on the Rise

Kansas is one of the most recent states to try to pass laws requiring welfare recipients to submit to drug testing.  Although there are many opponents who claim that this will cost the state too much money to test all of these people, in the long run this will help to ensure that the money is going to the children and welfare dependents who need food and shelter.  Too many drug users are on welfare and using the state’s money to purchase drugs.  From any perspective this is not the intention of welfare and makes most taxpayers (including me!) angry.  In fact, many of the welfare recipients who were asked about the drug testing bill now headed to the Governer of Kansas support the concept.  They have seen friends and relatives using welfare funds inappropriately. The unfortunate side effect of passing laws such as this, and so far 30 states have proposed bills like this, but none have successfully been enacted, is that this doesn’t provide a support system for drug addicts.  The bills address different aspects of the problem, from receipt of welfare benefits, to applying for welfare, to receipt of food stamps.  Those who test positive may be referred for treatment but the treatment isn’t necessarily covered and then there is the question about how they will support themselves while undergoing treatment, if they actually take that step.  What about false positives?  Is there any recourse for those who receive an incorrect result?  Another worry is that some who really need financial aid, and may use it properl,y won’t even apply if they have to be tested.  Some...