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...

Early Psychosis Linked to Marijuana Usage: Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

If you are the parent of a teenager, you are probably already worried about the possibility that they are using or trying drugs.  If you’re not, you should be!  Not only are there the inherent risks of drug use from driving under the influence to unprotected sex, but now marijuana use has been tied to early psychosis, especially schizophrenia.  A causal relationship wasn’t established, therefore the researchers of the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry online last week, can’t say that marijuana use causes psychosis, but they certainly suspect that it’s possible. Several theories about what the link between marijuana and early onset of psychosis means have been floated.  It could be that people who already have some mental problems are using marijuana to self-medicate or are drawn to getting high.  It could also be that those who will develop early psychosis (before the age of 25) tend to smoke marijuana for some reason while those who will develop it later aren’t drawn to it as strongly or at all. While these alternative reasons to a theory that marijuana use causes early psychosis are valid and may be the right answers, it can’t be ruled out that pot smoking is the cause.  Instilling the fear of drugs and their side effects in our youth is more important than ever.  Why take a chance that your child will be the one to develop a psychosis that never would have surfaced without marijuana use?  Confidential tests are available that can keep you informed about your teen’s extracurricular activities.  I wouldn’t take the risk of letting my child ruin their life, and...

FDA Working on New Guidelines for Opoid Prescribing

Although they are not there yet, the FDA is working towards creating a plan to prevent inappropriate prescribing, misuse and abuse of extended release opoid painkillers.  A panel reviewing the plan rejected it 25 to 10 saying that it doesn’t go far enough toward stemming opoid addiction, overdose and death.  The abuse and inappropriate use of these highly addictive painkillers has risen to the level of illegal drug use and has become a huge problem.  The proposed plan, a risk evaluation and strategy (REMS) plan, would require drug companies to provide education to physicians on how to prescribe pain medication and provide them with information to provide to patients on how to use and store opoids.  The panel stated that providing education is not enough and that the FDA plan needs to be stronger.  In fact, they suggest working to get Congress to pull the Drug Enforcement Administration in to tackle this problem. The abuse of painkillers affects all of us, adding to our national healthcare costs and putting us at risk when prescription drug addicts and abusers perform jobs that we rely on.  Employer drug screening programs need to include opoid testing and the FDA needs to continue their work to develop a plan that would prevent these abuses.  Patients could be placed on a list when they receive a prescription so that other physicians know their pain medication prescriptions and usage and physicians need to be monitored more closely and provided with training so that they can spot patients faking their pain.  We have a long way to go, but this is a critical health issue that needs to...

Balancing the Risks of Statins with the Benefits

Many people, especially those who take statin drugs for lowering their cholesterol, are aware of risks to the liver while on the drugs, but there are other negative side effects that are at their worst during the first year on the medication.  These drugs are generally considered to be highly effective at treating heart disease and are credited with saving millions of lives.  New findings, published in the British Medical Journal, found that for every 10,000 high risk women treated with statins, there would be about 271 fewer cases of heart disease and 8 fewer cases of esophageal cancer.  On the flip side, however, there would be 74 extra patients with liver dysfunction, 23 extra patients with acute renal failure, 307 with cataracts and 39 with a muscle weakness condition called myopathy.  The lead researchers of the study stated that the study likely won’t change the use of statins, but should be considered for policy and planning purposes. The research highlights the need for careful monitoring of patients on statin drugs.  It is important to be tested frequently for liver function and to be aware of the adverse side effects pointed out in the study.  It is possible that the close monitoring of patients taking statin drugs will allow these side effects to be caught early enough to prevent long term damage.  If you fall into this group, get tested, stay in touch with your doctor and watch out for unusual symptoms or side effects. Written by...

Choose You Campaign Focuses on Putting Yourself First

Just in time for Mother’s Day, when we all say “Thanks Mom”, the American Cancer Society is encouraging women to take better care of themselves.  According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 women will contract cancer during her lifetime.  Moms spend so much time taking care of everyone else, they often neglect their own health.  Carving out time to exercise, go to the doctor, or even choose healthier foods can be a struggle for busy people.  Ellen Pompeo, of Grey’s Anatomy, launched the effort this week in Times Square and focused on this specific idea: Busy mothers need to make the time to stay or get healthy.  In a new national survey, out of 2000 women aged 25 to 64, 90% say they “fall short” of eating a balanced diet and 85% fail to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. “Women hold the keys to cancer prevention because they are the Chief Medical and Chief Operating Officers of their individual households. But they really struggle to make their own health a priority,” said Elizabeth T.H. Fontham, M.P.H., Dr.P.H., immediate past volunteer president of the American Cancer Society.  Women are encouraged to go to the Choose You website and sign a Choose You commitment to meet a specific personal health goal from 5 different categories: Eat Right, Get Active, Get Recommended Health Screenings, Protect Your Skin or Quit Smoking.  Choose You participants and visitors will also have access to online tools and support such as a virtual dietician, a calorie counter and more. On May 12th, large employers will support the Choose You campaign by encouraging...