Friday, January 24, 2014

Drug use among U.S. workers declined 74% over past 25 years According to new analysis Drug use among U.S. workers declined dramatically over the past 25 years, although the rate of positive test results for certain drugs, including amphetamine and opiates, continues to climb, according to an analysis of workplace drug test results released by Quest Diagnostics, a provider of diagnostic information services. The release of the special 25th anniversary Drug Testing Index (DTI) coincides with the anniversary of the passage of the Drug-Free Workplace Act in 1988. The Act requires federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree to provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a federal agency. Although the Act did not require mandatory drug testing, federal agencies subsequently promulgated drug testing regulations affecting "safety-sensitive" employees and other federal employees. Many private employers also created policies consistent with the federal requirements in order to minimize the hazards of drug use in the workplace. The DTI analysis examined more than 125 million urine drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics forensic toxicology laboratories across the United States as a service for government and private employers between 1988 and 2012. The analysis examined the annual positivity rate for employees in positions subject to certain federal safety regulations, such as truck drivers, train operators, airline and nuclear power plant workers (federally mandated safety-sensitive workers); workers primarily from private companies (U.S. general workforce); and the results of both groups together (combined U.S. workforce). The index reports the percentage of results that tested positive for the presence of a drug or its metabolite, an adulterant, or that involved a specimen that was deemed to be unacceptable for testing ("positivity"). The company's testing services identify approximately 20 commonly abused drugs, including marijuana, opiates, and cocaine. Key findings from the analysis: • The positivity rate for the combined U.S. workforce declined 74 percent, from 13.6 percent in 1988 to 3.5 percent in 2012. • The positivity rate for the federally-mandated safety-sensitive workforce declined by 38 percent, from 2.6 percent in 1992 to 1.6 percent in 2012. • The positivity rate for the U.S. general workforce declined by 60 percent, from 10.3 percent in 1992 to 4.1 percent in 2012. • Despite the declines in overall drug use, the DTI analysis also found that the positivity rate for certain segments of drugs has increased. Positivity rates for amphetamines, including amphetamine and methamphetamine, has nearly tripled (196 percent higher) in the combined U.S. workforce and, in 2012, were at the highest level since 1997. The positivity rate for amphetamine itself, including prescription medications, has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Positivity rates for prescription opiates, which include the drugs hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone, have also increased steadily over the last decade - more than doubling for hydrocodone and hydromorphone and up 71 percent for oxycodone - reflective of national prescribing trends. This data is consistent with other studies, including a 2012 Quest Diagnostics Health Trends analysis of more than 75,000 test results from patients tested for compliance through the company's prescription drug monitoring services. This report found that the majority of Americans misused their prescription medications, including opioids and amphetamine medications. The DTI report also found that changing positivity rates often mirrored larger developments in drug use in the U.S. For instance, a decline in drug positives for methamphetamine observed in 2005 roughly coincided with federal and state efforts to crackdown on so-called "meth labs" and put over-the-counter medicines (such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine) behind the pharmacy counter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Surge in Synthetic Marijuana Emergency Room Visits Reported in Denver By Join Together Staff | January 23, 2014 Emergency rooms in Denver, Colorado reported a surge in visits related to synthetic marijuana in the late summer and early fall, according to the Los Angeles Times. Experts say similar patterns may emerge in other parts of the country. Between August 24 and September 19, area emergency rooms saw 263 patients, mostly young men, with symptoms related to synthetic marijuana. Most patients were treated in the emergency room, but seven were admitted to intensive care units. In a letter in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Andrew A. Monte of the University of Colorado School of Medicine writes synthetic marijuana appears to be growing more potent. “Although the effects of exposures to first-generation synthetic cannabinoids are largely benign, newer products have been associated with seizures, ischemic stroke and cardiac toxicity, possibly due to potency,” he wrote. Synthetic marijuana is sold under names including K2, Spice and Black Mamba. It is made with dried herbs and spices that are sprayed with chemicals that induce a marijuana-type high when smoked, the article notes. The products are widely available, despite laws prohibiting them. “These substances are not benign,” Monte said. “You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be — up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana.” In September, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced they were investigating whether three deaths and 75 hospitalizations were caused by synthetic marijuana. Short-term effects of using synthetic marijuana include loss of control, lack of pain response, increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled/spastic body movements, elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Colorado Addiction Treatment Centers Brace for More Teens Referred for Marijuana Use By Join Together Staff | January 7, 2014 | Addiction treatment centers in Colorado are bracing for an increase in teens referred for marijuana use, ABC News reports. The state began legal sales of recreational marijuana for adults last week. While only people 21 and older are allowed to purchase marijuana, some experts are concerned the law will allow the drug to more easily fall into the hands of teens. Dr. Christian Thurstone, who heads the teen rehabilitation center Adolescent STEP: Substance Abuse Treatment Education & Prevention Program, said 95 percent of patient referrals to the program are for marijuana use. In preparation for the new law, Dr. Thurstone has doubled his staff. He told ABC News that marijuana can be harmful for some teens, particularly those suffering from mental illness. He said that after Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2009, teens began to use much higher potency products. “Our kids are presenting more severe addictions; it takes them longer to get a clean urine drug screen,” he said. Higher-potency marijuana can increase the risk of psychotic episodes in some teens, Thurstone added. “Anecdotally, yes, we’re seeing kids in treatment here who have paranoia and seeing things and hearing things that aren’t there,” he said. “Adolescent exposure to marijuana [raises] risk of permanent psychosis in adulthood.” Ben Court, an addictions expert at the University of Colorado Hospital Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation, has also seen an increase in patients addicted to marijuana since the state approved medical marijuana. He says the younger people are when they start consistently using marijuana, the more likely they are to become addicted. “Most people are going to smoke weed and it’s not going to be an issue. By 18 to 24, your odds are less than 1 in 10 that you’re going to be addicted,” he said. “If you start under 18, it’s 1 in 6.”