Why Cigarettes Seem More or Less Harmful in Various Countries


A recent episode of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” took a major jab at tobacco industry giant Philip Morris. According to Oliver, the large corporation uses unsavory tactics to make sure that citizens of various countries are not exposed to tobacco warnings, like the photographs found on some cigarette packaging that depict diseased lungs and other negative side effects tobacco use can have on the body. Oliver pulled up legal documents between the company and Togo–a small and poor country compared to the business–that were unsettling. According to Oliver, Philip Morris has threatened to sue Togo, as well as Australia, for attempting to use visual methods of warning consumers about the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.

Cigarettes are notoriously addictive and deadly. The tobacco industry is also notoriously manipulative and reckless with their marketing, advertising, and, apparently, their legal actions. When a person is addicted to tobacco and nicotine, his or her life is indisputably in danger. And this kind of addiction isn’t small change—according to the CDC, more people in the USA are addicted to nicotine than any other drug. The CDC also officially warns that quitting smoking is universally difficult, often leading to many failed attempts. Much of the attention in the effort to lower the number of smokers in the USA and worldwide is turned toward making sure people don’t start smoking to begin with, since quitting is such an obstacle. But how successful can those endeavors be if cigarette producers themselves have a say in a country’s marketing and advertising laws in regard to warning labels? How is it possible that the tobacco industry has a voice in this issue at all? It’s hard not to wonder how many fewer smokers we might have across the globe right now were it not for the deceptive intervention of tobacco producers.

Indeed, cigarettes might seem more or less harmful in various countries depending largely on what kind of warning labels are presented to consumers and, perhaps, whether or not a tobacco corporation like Philip Morris had any role in creating or upholding the marketing laws that allow or ban explicit warning labels. Pictorial warnings on cigarette packaging are useful. Various focus groups as well as scientific studies have revealed to us that pictorial warnings on cigarette packaging can be significantly more effective in conveying the danger of cigarettes and other tobacco products to consumers, even enough to sway some consumers toward not making the purchase.

Since we know tobacco products are highly addictive and dangerous in myriad ways to general health, there shouldn’t be any limit to the type of warnings our government or any other government would like to provide its citizens with in an effort to reduce tobacco use. The number of people diagnosed with diseases directly related to or otherwise complicated by tobacco use is staggering. Something clearly has to change and Oliver is not mistaken to point his finger at a company like Philip Morris because the first thing that should be changed in an effort to resolve this issue is, perhaps, the influence the tobacco industry appears to have on tobacco warnings and the general public perception of the safety of tobacco products.

Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of loved ones because of it. She believes in the restorative power of yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and plant-based diets and she is an advocate for progressive drug policy reform.

Understanding Blood Alcohol Content: Zero Tolerance for Drunk Driving

May 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization


73419Whether you drink or not, getting a better understanding of blood alcohol content (BAC) can be beneficial for you, as many people have never really given much thought to the topic. BAC is simply the concentration of alcohol that is in your blood. When you drink, that alcohol goes right into your bloodstream and ends up traveling to the brain, causing various cognitive and behavioral changes.

One very important reason people should get familiar with their BAC is because there are so many drunk driving accidents related to having a high BAC. In fact, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that one person dies every 45 minutes due to an automobile accident in which someone was intoxicated. It’s a statistic that law enforcement officials are working hard on decreasing by cracking down on drunk or buzzed drivers.

Your BAC level is measured as mass per volume. This means that if you have a BAC of 0.04%, you have 0.04 grams per 100 grams of your blood. It might sound a bit complicated, but there are some great charts and online BAC calculators that help you understand this better.

What is a typical drink?

A half ounce of alcohol equals one drink. So this means that for each shot, 5 oz. glass of wine, or 12 oz. beer one drinks, you are getting .54 ounces of alcohol.

What kinds of things affect a BAC?

There are various factors that can change your BAC, including how many drinks you have in one sitting, how fast you drink them, whether you are a male or female, your weight, tolerance, and whether you’ve eaten anything or not. It’s important to know the varying factors. For example, if you’re a female and weigh 120 pounds and you hardly ever drink, drinking 2 drinks in 2 hours may put your BAC above the legal limit for driving. On the other hand, if you’re a woman weighing 170 pounds and you drink frequently, 2 drinks in 2 hours will probably not put your BAC over the limit.

How do you know when you’re too buzzed or drunk to drive?

It’s not an easy call. You may feel like you’re fine to drive, yet your BAC could be over the legal driving limit. Alcohol certainly affects people’s judgment, so going with what you “feel” is not wise. If you’re BAC is between .08 and .10, you have more than 11 times greater chance of having an automobile accident if you’re a woman and if you’re a young man, 52 greater chance. That’s huge!

What BAC is considered illegal?

The states enforce a law that says if your BAC is .08 or higher, you’re driving impaired and can be arrested for driving under the influence. Police officers can also arrest you if you’re under .08 if you’re displaying characteristics that make you an unsafe driver. Some call it buzzed driving or perhaps people mix alcohol with pills or marijuana. Here is an online BAC calculator you can play around with to get an idea of what your blood alcohol would be in various drinking scenarios.

What should you do?

If you’re planning on drinking while you’re out, don’t plan on driving at all. You can have a designated driver, call a taxi or Uber, or stay overnight wherever it is you’re drinking.

Get a breathalyzer

There are some breathalyzers out there you can purchase to be sure that you are not over the legal drinking limit when you’re out and about. Here is one link for a breathalyzer that uses your smartphone screen to indicate its results. If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly.


Dominica Applegate has a BS in Psychology, an MA in Counseling and has worked in the mental health field for 12 years before launching her own business as a writer. Specializing in addictions, relationships, codependency, fitness and health, Dominica’s work is ultimately about helping people remove blocks that keep them stuck, because everyone can really create a life that they love.

How Much Will A DUI Cost You?

April 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture


144793If you take the risk of drinking and driving, you run the risk of getting arresting for driving under the influence (DUI). You also run the risk of getting into an accident and hurting yourself or others. Either way, DUI can cost you in major ways. For those who do not know, if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is greater than .08, you are considered legally intoxicated and can be arrested.

Financially, a DUI charge can cost anywhere from $4,000 to about $24,000. This might seem like a huge amount of money for a conviction (and it is), but the authorities are serious about cracking down on drunk drivers. There are innocent people injured and killed all the time by intoxicated drivers, so the fines and penalties are steep and hopefully deter people from drinking and driving.

Other Problems and Jail Time May Occur

Apart from paying the fine, there is also a big chance for jail time, especially if the driver has had earlier DUI arrests or is in possession of drugs. The jail time will vary, but many people can get out within a couple of days and await their trial.

Getting arrested for DUI can affect various areas of your life. You may lose your license, which means you may not be able to keep your job. No job means no money and that poses a large problem. You may also suffer relationship, mental, and emotional problems. If people at work hear about your conviction, you may not be looked upon favorably by management and get passed up for promotions. The bottom line is that one DUI can radically change your life.

It Can Get Very Expensive

For the first offense, with no injury and no damage, it is still possible to pay a huge amount of money. Once arrested, the individual in question would have to pay an amount starting from about $4,000 up to $20,000 depending on what state they are in.

Court costs will cost you anywhere from around $250 up to $1,500. Then you will most likely want to hire a lawyer, which can range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Granted, you can opt to have no lawyer present, but it’s in your best interest to have a good lawyer beside you to increase the chances of a better outcome for the DUI charge.

Other Expenses

Other expenses that could be incurred will include license reinstatement, which can run into hundreds of dollars depending on the state you live in. Also, the judge can order you to obtain substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation classes, which can run you upwards of $500. Additionally, some repeat DUI offenders are commanded to install an Ignition Interlock System on their vehicles, which means they cannot start their car without breathing into a breathalyzer to be sure they are free from alcohol. This can cost them an additional hundreds of dollars and a rental fee of between $50 and $100 per month.

As you can see, one DUI can really set you back thousands and thousands of dollars and cost you a lot more than just money. The real harm could be to yourself or others physically. When you drive intoxicated, you tend to lose your sense of control and you can easily wreck your car, hit other cars or people, and end up injuring yourself and others. Approximately 16,000 people are killed each year in crashes related to intoxication. This number ought to be reason alone to not drink and drive, so if you or your friends are drinking, take a cab or rely on a designated driver. Think safety first!

Dominica Applegate has a BS in Psychology, an MA in Counseling and has worked in the mental health field for 12 years before launching her own business as a writer. Specializing in addictions, relationships, codependency, fitness and health, Dominica’s work is ultimately about helping people remove blocks that keep them stuck, because everyone can really create a life that they love.

Drunk Driving Decreases as Drug Driving on the Rise

March 17, 2016 by  
Filed under General Topics, Laws and Legalization


While substance abuse is directly detrimental to the specific user’s health and overall well-being, the issue becomes a societal hazard when getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

According to the CDC, an average of 30 American’s die every day from alcohol related crashes. In 2010, 1.4 million drivers were arrested for being under the influence, which is roughly 1 percent of the 112 million American’s who self-reported that they had had an episode of impaired driving.

With statistical totals of this magnitude, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a vested interest in following the national trends of impaired driving. A recent study entitled, “2014 Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers,” found that drivers with alcohol in their systems had decreased by more than one-third since 2007, but drivers with drugs or other inhibiting chemicals in their systems had increased to a 1 to 4 ratio.

Naturally, it is extremely difficult to classify or even narrow down the wide array of ‘inhibiting chemicals’ that drivers are testing positive for. Drunk driving has rather simple symptoms that have been clearly defined. Driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, pharmaceuticals, hallucinogens or stimulants creates an impossible classification process.

Since marijuana usage is arguably the most popular and widely used substance, the NHTSA has focused recent research on correlating whether or not there is a bridge between smoking marijuana and car crashes. The study found that pot users were 25 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident than a sober driver, but upon further investigation the statistics were found to be somewhat misleading.

When researchers factored in age and gender to their statistical analysis they found that young men were the most likely group to be involved in car crashes, but also the most likely to under the influence of marijuana. The objective was to see if there was a link between marijuana and car crashes, but the demographics make it all but impossible to tell if age or substance is the major factor in the crash.

“Once we controlled for those demographic factors, we did not find a significantly higher crash risk among marijuana users as compared to those who did not have marijuana in their system,” NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said.

The issue grows even more complex when trying to classify different levels of chemically impaired driving. A Breathalyzer test will immediately determine the severity of a person’s alcohol intake, but it is far more difficult to conclude “how high” an individual is. There are a slew of factors that go into the issue depending on the substance and the amount ingested.

Overall what can be concluded is that the recent NHTSA studies show signs of progress when it comes to impaired driving. While there isn’t necessarily a preferable chemical to be ingesting behind the wheel of a vehicle, alcohol can be looked at as having the most potential for negative impact. Since the research clearly shows that drunk driving statistics are down from their previous totals, education as well as legislation seem to be having a positive effect.

With drunk driving on the decline the NHTSA will likely continue to research and lobby for an increased focus on driving while under the influence of other chemicals. In 2007 survey research showed that 16.3 percent drivers were under the influence of a substance, but in 2014 the total had jumped to 20 percent. Drivers with marijuana in their systems also increased from 9 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2014.

As stated earlier, driving under the influence of anything can be extremely dangerous seeing as how thousands of pounds of metal traveling at high rates of speed possess a physics nightmare for the driver and anyone else within eyeshot. While the NHTSA research looks to be promising there is still a great deal to be done to ensure the safety of all drivers at all times.

Chad Arias has a B.A. in journalism and is a contributor for the Latino Post and Opposing Views. In his free time, Arias writes poetry, short stories and is currently working on a novel detailing his experiences with substance abuse. He is most interested on the philosophical and psychological aspects of the subject.

‘First Church of Cannabis’ Finds Asylum Under Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Law

February 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization



You might have heard the news about the religious freedom law that Indiana passed recently. In fact, it was all over the media for a while. It’s been a controversial law, officially titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The general idea is that the state cannot impede on any individual’s religious beliefs. This law has often been applied to hot-button issues like same-sex marriage.

A pizza parlor in Indiana notoriously publicly stated that they would not ever cater a same-sex wedding to show their opposition for this law. But amid the law being used the way that the lawmakers behind it no doubt intended–for Christians to be able to uphold their beliefs even against state law and even in a place of business–people with other religious beliefs have been using this law for themselves, too.

The First Church of Cannabis made the news shortly after this law was passed. No, their church is not a joke. And while the First Church of Cannabis currently has no marijuana-related plans other than growing hemp, their organization draws a larger point about religious freedom vs. state law. Where do we draw the line? Cannabis, in the scope of drugs, is probably the least of our worries. What if someone were to start the First Church of Recreational Oxytocin Use? Their beliefs might conflict with state law, but the entire purpose of this law is to say that these conflicts can happen and that religious freedom should trump state law, which could be one big loophole for criminal activity, including substance use.

Similarly, what would this kind of law mean in other states if it were ever adopted? What else might it unintentionally mean in the state of Indiana? These are important questions to ask. Any time the separation of state and church is ignored, we take a step back in terms of progress and the door is wide open then for misinterpretation and exploitation, especially in the case of an actual law that says the separation of state and church doesn’t have to matter. That drugs are illegal is the biggest deterrent for some people. If drug use can be made to seem a part of a religious belief, this deterrent will no longer exist in a state like Indiana with a law like this.

If you live in Indiana and are unsure of how this new law might affect you for drug-related reasons or others, contact your local state representative to discuss. If you disagree with this law, let your representative know that you do and why. Although it sometimes seems that lawmakers in the government are arbitrarily making and passing laws, the voice of the public still does matter. Make your voice heard if you disagree with voiding the separation of church and state and use the First Church of Cannabis as an example of how the law can be exploited.

Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of loved ones because of it. She believes in the restorative power of yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and plant-based diets and she is an advocate for progressive drug policy reform.

Addictions in Iran Rise Despite Death Penalty

November 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture


TGDG Addiction in Iran

Despite appeals to the United Nations by various human rights groups, Iran remains insistent that their drug trafficking laws will continue to be enforced via the death penalty.

In 2013, Iran put to death 331 drug offenders, an astounding number that was surpassed in 2014, all but showing that the harsh penalties for trafficking are not curving the nations drug problem.

Iran is a hot spot for opium trafficking due to its 560-mile border with Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, accounting for an estimated 90 percent of the worlds supply.

Faced with neighboring country and poor drug education, 2 percent of the Iranian population is addicted to opiates, making it one of the highest substance abusing countries in the world.

The obvious point is that Iran has a drug problem and they are well aware of the future implications that will occur if these trends continue. The Iranian government takes the numbers seriously, but so far their tactics have been unsuccessful seeing how each year more and more drug traffickers are being put to death.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary of Iran’s Human Rights Council, has spoken out about the harsh penalties and their obvious ineffectiveness when it comes to battling addiction. Although Larijani told France’s 24 News that, “We are crusading to change this law,” the Iranian government has shown no signs of changing their policy.

International law offers the provision that if a nation chooses to institute the death penalty, they may only use it for the most heinous of crimes. The United Nations does not include drug offenses as warranting capital punishment.

In terms of political and international pressure being placed on Iran, the issue of capital punishment for drug offenders largely takes a backseat to the supposed greater issue of Iran’s nuclear program. The overall policy seems to constitute a “lesser evil” philosophy where in which capital punishment is being ignored.

Iran’s borders are not going anywhere and despite burning over 100 metric tons of confiscated substances, drug trafficking continues to thrive. In order to combat the problem Iran seemingly must introduce new tactics such as better treatment facilities and drug education so that the nations youth can be better prepared for the society that they will engage with.

Chad Arias has a B.A. in journalism and is a contributor for the Latino Post and Opposing Views. In his free time, Arias writes poetry, short stories and is currently working on a novel detailing his experiences with substance abuse. He is most interested on the philosophical and psychological aspects of the subject.

The Impact of Marijuana in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

November 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization


Just this month, a joint report was published aimed to support employers in better understanding the implications of marijuana use on the workforce.

This study states the following: “[Marijuana] is, by a wide margin, the drug most often detected in workplace drug testing programs. With rapidly changing attitudes and laws regarding marijuana use, employers need to examine their current policies and be prepared for potential impacts on workforce as these trends continue.”

As more and more cities and states decriminalize and even legalize marijuana, employers require parameters and guidance with their employees in a number of areas such as:

  • consequences and side effects on the job
  • temporary impairment in the workplace
  • monitoring use among employees
  • risks and associated costs of adverse events related to marijuana use
  • loss of productivity
  • safety of workers and the general public

New Advice & Proposals

Employers are often put in a difficult position trying to accommodate both state laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes as well as company drug-use policies.

This information offers practical steps that any employer can take to ensure their impairment and drug-testing policies are effective and that jobs are being performed safely.

The authors concluded the study with 8 recommendations for employers in developing policies regarding off-work use of marijuana.

The summary of these suggestions are:

  • For employees covered by federal drug testing regulations, marijuana use, both on or off the job, is prohibited.
  • Employees in safety-sensitive positions must not be impaired at work by any substance, whether it be illicit, legally prescribed or available over-the-counter. Employers may consider prohibiting on the job marijuana use for all employees in safety-sensitive positions, even when not covered by federal drug testing regulations.
  • Employers residing in or near states that allow the use of recreational marijuana must establish a policy regarding off-work use of marijuana.
  • In most states that allow the use of medical marijuana, employers may be able to continue policies banning the use of marijuana.
  • Most workers’ compensation statutes allow reduced benefits when a worker is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • All employers should have clear policies and procedures for supervisors to follow regarding the criteria for identifying potential impairment.
  • Employee education is vital to ensure compliance with company expectations.
  • In states where marijuana use is permitted, employers should provide educational resources regarding the detrimental effects of marijuana use, including caution regarding dose and delayed effects of edible products.
  • This Joint Task Force report was issued by two very reputable and credible sources, namely The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

The primary point of this study is to stress that “the safety of both workers and the public must be the main focus to all workplace policies.”

Above all else, the changing environment surrounding marijuana use requires constant communication between all parties including health professionals and legal experts.

Audrey Beim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. She has over 20 years of experience in the health, wellness, nutritional and fitness categories and has used her expertise to write articles for media outlets such as Linfield Media and Examiner.com.

Op-Ed: Why Marijuana Should Be Legal

October 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture


iStock_000008959124_Large (1)Objections to thelegalization of marijuana seem to center around the message it will send to our teens. If the message is so important, then what message are we sending to our nation’s youth by having marijuana which has no reported fatalities illegal, and keeping cigarettes and alcohol the first and second leading causes of preventable death legal? At best, it causes kids to minimize the dangers of alcohol and cigarettes. At worst, it causes kids to dismiss the whole matter for lack of any credibility. By making marijuana legal, and controlling it in a manner similar to the way we control alcohol and cigarettes, we present a more consistent message to our youth: all three are worthy of discretion and limitation.

Not Endorsing Pot for Our Youth

Other objections to the legalization of marijuana are objections that could apply equally to cigarettes and alcohol. For instance, people are concerned about the effect of marijuana on the teenage brain. Studies have shown that the younger a person is when they start drinking alcohol, the quicker the person will become an alcoholic drinker. The vulnerabilities of the teenage brain are not limited to marijuana by any means. One big difference between alcohol and marijuana is that the former is better regulated. Marijuana needs to be similarly regulated. Neither should be available to minors. The message should be consistent.

Medicinal Purpose: Marijuana Has Many

In fact, we now know that marijuana has one characteristic that separates it from other illegal substances AND from cigarettes and alcoholit has medicinal uses. Marijuana has been found to relieve pain and nausea, and to increase the appetite of people who need the nutrition but cannot eat because of discomfort or lack of appetite. It is well documented that marijuana provides unique relief for cancer patients.

Eliminate the Black Market for Marijuana

Any objections to legalization are far outweighed by the damage caused by keeping marijuana illegal.

First and foremost is the dangerous and deadly black market, in which criminals wage war on one another, on innocents and on officers of the law in protecting their territories. By legalizing marijuana and controlling the channels of distribution, we take the power out of the hands ofcriminals.

Secondly, we criminalize and jail people who do not belong in jail. We do not jail people even if they have twenty cases of beer in their basement, or 500 bottles of wine. It is no different with people who hold a personal stash of marijuana. The same laws regarding operating motor vehicles and selling without a license would apply. If an addiction develops for alcohol or marijuana, it should be addressed medically, and not penally.

Take the Able-Bodied off the Government Tab and Put Them Back Into the Economy

First, as a practical matter, no person should be in jail, taken out of the work force and put on the government bill, for the simply reason that they smoke pot and keep a reasonable stash with them. The world is full of highly functioning people who have smoked, or continue to smoke, marijuana. If they are arrested with a stash, they go to jail. In addition to taking them out of the work force and making them a burden on the government, we place them in an environment that manufactures criminals. Many come out of jail much more corrupt than when they went in, and with a whole new set of tricks.

Marijuana Tax to Boost Economy

Second, legalizing marijuana would create jobs, income and taxes in its manufacture and distribution. Our failed “war on drugs” shows that people are going to smoke marijuana no matter what, just as prohibition showed us that people are going to drink alcohol no matter what. Legalizing the sale and distribution brings money into the economy that previously remained untaxed in the hands of criminals. The economic benefits of legalization are apparent in both money not wasted, and money created.

Money Wasted Chasing Down Pot Smokers

Finally, the mountains of money that our government has allocated to chasing down those manufacturing, distributing or using marijuana can be reallocated for other uses, whether that is for real help for addicts in the form of treatment, or simply helping to reduce our deficit.

The time has come. Common sense demands it. The benefits far outstrip any perceived harm. Legalize marijuana. It’s the right thing to do.

Legislation Aims to Curb Drug Abuse Among Seniors

September 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, Politics and Government


A shot of a senior asian man taking a medicine

Opioid pain medication addiction is now considered an epidemic as the number of those who are addicted quadrupled in the past two decades. The highest age group plagued with this addiction are senior citizens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is set to introduce a new bill for bipartisan legislation that aims to tackle prescription drug abuse among seniors. With approximately 170,000 people receiving Medicare benefits impacted by this epidemic, the bill can save an enormous amount of taxpayer funds.

Putting an End to Multiple Prescriptions

Use of multiple doctors and pharmacies is one way that drug seekers can obtain multiple prescriptions and the drugs they need to fuel their addiction. The new bill would limit the use of doctors to one and the use of pharmacies filling their prescriptions to one. This eliminates what addicted patients have access to. The practice of “doctor-shopping” and “pharmacy hopping” would be stopped by this limitation.

Better use of Medicare funds will allow these funds to serve more patients, thus ensuring funding availability for those in future generations.

Better Foothold on Medication Costs

Increases in costs of Medicare-approved drugs have created a huge loss of revenues being filtered into the Medicare system, over a period of many years. The current problem is exponentially increased due to the sheer numbers of those reaching Medicare age in the Baby Boomers generation. These are people born between the years 1946 to 1964; whose ages today are from 51 to 69. This age group is raising costs of Medicare-provided services through the roof, with little or no end in sight.

Controlling costs of medication has become a national concern over the last 10 years, especially as these seniors reach age 65 and the Medicare system is hit with such high numbers of applicants and their medical expenses.

Increasing numbers of seniors with addiction to pain medication creates a severe hit on the funds allocated for Medicare treatment, threatening losses in the billions of dollars to these programs.

Cost-cutting measures have been established across the country as each state has implemented programs to offset the losses. This current proposal is another way to address the issue.

Keeping the Medicare System Alert

Looking for those who are guilty of seeing multiple doctors, who are filling more than one prescription for their addictive medications is a big part of the bill. These measures are similar to those already in place for Medicaid and private insurance programs nationwide.

Anyone with a propensity toward abusing prescription pain medications would be singled out of the plan for inclusion into a drug-diversion type of treatment program. They would be allowed to determine a preferred provider for prescribing their required medications and filling prescriptions. Limitations would be placed on how much and how often these could be refilled. Controls and monitors would be exercised in this person’s use of medications.

All members of the team of doctors and providers within the Medicare system would be encouraged to remain watchful of patients in the system to determine possible problems with drug-seeking behaviors and possible dependency issues around the medications seen as problematic. They would also implement necessary interventions and recommendations for treatment of drug dependencies where needed.

Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act

  • Preference for their provider and pharmacy use would be granted, unless that provider or pharmacy has been determined to contribute to abuse in the past.
  • The beneficiary will be notified when they have a change in status of benefits and a clinical review provided to determine which members require high doses of pain medication, keeping them out of the program as needed.
  • Determining clinical criteria for who is eligible and at-risk of abusing opioid pain medication.
  • Those who receive hospice care or long-term care in nursing homes will be determined eligible for exemption from this ruling.
  • Create guidelines for data sharing between providers, plans and contractors to decrease opportunities for abuse of the plan, as well as fraud and waste problems.
  • Address any areas of concern for prescription drug abuse aside from opioid pain medications.
  • Create procedural criteria for any member’s inclusion in the program and their appeal rights.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma and recommends essay help online with professional writers wich have years of experience in this field and they can help you with any written work!. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

The Dangers of Marijuana-Impaired Driving

September 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture


iStock_000023889836_MediumA recent study regarding the effects of marijuana on driving performance showed dangerously impaired motor coordination. Those with a blood content of 13.1 micrograms/L of THC, which is close to the 0.08 legal limit for blood-alcohol content in many states, showed patterns of weaving outside their designated lanes in traffic. Tests were conducted in driving simulators to gain specific details of impaired driving ranges for those under the influence of marijuana, both alone and with combined influence of alcohol and marijuana.

Of particular interest were those tests which showed impaired results for both marijuana and alcohol, combined. The results were impactful because neither substance was at the designated range for impairment; even though tests concluded that impairment was recognized.

In essence, this means that lower doses of marijuana, when combined with lower doses of alcohol, have a cumulative effect that impairs the driving capabilities of the user, even though neither substance indicates in a range that is prohibited by law.

A dangerous level of alcohol and marijuana may not be considered problematic, when tested separately. Also found in the study were significant differences in content of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, when tested using different methodology.

Blood tests for THC may not indicate the accurate level in a person’s body, due to the 2-4 hour time frame it takes to gather the specimen in most cases. A breath test, which can be gathered immediately at the scene may be more beneficial, time-wise, but is less accurate a measure of actual THC content in the driver’s blood. These variations in testing capability cause concern for police in determining impairment in drivers due to marijuana use.

Another confounding implication is seen with those who are aware of how to control their peak blood levels by “titration”, which is a method for controlling inhalation while smoking marijuana. This method can alter the readings on breath tests for marijuana consumption by a driver. A range of 2.9% to 6.7% is seen in variations in drivers using this method. Alcohol consumption radically changed these peaks to a measure indicating severe impairment.

Drugged driving is a serious problem. While alcohol continues to be the deadliest cause of fatal driving accidents nationwide, drugged driving is growing in incidence.

The true measures for drugged driving accidents is skewed for many reasons:

  • Alcohol consumption is most easily recognized, usually causing suspicion by the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath.
  • Alcohol screening is done most easily and frequently by police and other emergency service providers.
  • If a driver tests within a high range for alcohol consumption, no further testing is performed, thereby not including the statistic for drugged driving.
  • Testing for drugs involves breath, blood and urine sampling to cover all forms of possible drugged driving.

A nationwide study, done in 2010 on fatal crashes, determined that 36.9% of drivers had smoked marijuana. Given this high statistic, it is reasonable to state that impairment from marijuana use can be considered deadly.


Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

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