Many Prescription Drug Users Not Aware of Driving-Related Risks

February 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, People and Culture

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The numbers are simply staggering. CDC data reveals that over 48 percent of Americans have used at least one prescription drug in the past thirty days. And approximately 4.45 billion prescriptions are issued every year in the United States. That’s a lot of pills and medication for a lot of people.

Sedatives, narcotics, even stimulants, and antidepressants can all affect an individual’s capacity for safe driving. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs has become a growing concern. There is substantial evidence that a shift from illegal to prescription drugs may be the reason behind many fatally injured drivers in the United States.

The Effect of Medications

It can be difficult to measure how many crashes are caused by drugged driving, but a National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found a startling 18 percent of drivers killed in a crash also tested positive for at least one drug.

A nationwide study of deadly crashes found that about 47 percent of drivers who tested positive for drugs had used a prescription drug, and the most common prescription drugs found were pain relievers.

For example, antidepressants can cause drowsiness and a slow reaction time in some patients. Those two or three extra seconds for braking could mean all the difference in having an accident. Antidepressants are some of the most popular drugs in our society with 12.7 percent of Americans taking an antidepressant within the last month. Other medications, such Prozac, can cause insomnia, which will make you tired and slow during the day.

There is ample evidence that the use of different types of psychoactive drugs significantly increases the risk of injury including situations that involve automobile accidents.

Prescription anti-anxiety agents and muscle relaxants such as Valium and Xanax may have a tranquilizing effect which can impair judgment and reaction times.

Many believe a stimulant drug that perks you up would be good to take before driving. But the truth is that they make you less likely to pay attention to fine details and affect the ability to concentrate.

You may be surprised to learn that although legal in many states, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes.

Several studies have shown that drivers with THC (marijuana’s mind-altering ingredient) in their blood were roughly twice as likely to be responsible for a deadly crash or be killed than drivers who hadn’t used drugs or alcohol.

It is important to remember that medications interact with one another; the more medications we take, the greater the chance for interactions that may influence our driving.

The Law

While laws differ from state to state, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if caught driving hazardously while taking prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, even if your doctor wrote the prescription.

Unfortunately, there is very sparse data available as to whether the people who use prescription drugs are aware of the danger and hazards while driving.

According to new research, patients taking prescription drugs that affect driving may not be aware they could potentially be driving impaired. This topic has not been clearly studied. “We were very surprised that our study was the first we could find on this topic,” said the lead researcher. “It’s a pretty understudied area, and prescription drugs are a growing concern.”

The Latest Study

After Tiger Woods was arrested in a state of confusion while driving in May of this year with five drugs in his system, he stated that he had “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”

He is not alone in his lack of understanding of how medications can affect the ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Nearly 20 percent of people in the latest research reported recent use of a prescription medication with the potential for impairment.

But shockingly, many said they were aware that the medication could affect their driving, despite the potential for receiving warnings from their doctor, their pharmacist, or the medication label itself.

The medications involved ranged from sleep aids (i.e. Ambien) to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications.

In the study, participating drivers believed that sleep aids were the most likely to affect safe driving, followed by morphine/codeine, other amphetamines, and muscle relaxants. ADHD medications were viewed as least likely to affect driving risk.

Take Precautions

It is useful to understand the danger of drugs and their effect on driving. There are free online tools, such as AAA’s Roadwise RX, that allows you to record your prescription and over-the-counter medications, and to receive personalized feedback about how drug side effects and interactions between medications may affect your ability to drive safely.

The Implications

The most recent study strongly suggests that for all drivers using prescribed medications there are considerable improvements that must be created and implemented to warn of the potential for serious automobile accidents.

“The vast majority of drivers who are recent users of prescription drugs that have the potential for impairment have come into contact with a physician, a pharmacist, and a medication label,” researchers stated in in November 2017 public release. “There’s an opportunity here that’s not being leveraged: to provide people with accurate information about what risks are associated with those drugs. People can then make informed decisions about whether they’re able to drive.”

There is also the need for improved labeling on medications that are likely to impair driving.

In the meantime, if you have the slightest concern about your medications and their impact on your ability to drive, consult your physician or healthcare professional. We live in a world where you do not have to take chances on the road with your life or the lives of others. Simply call a taxi, take Uber or call Go Go Grandparent (at any age). It may just save a life—your life.

References:
[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-therapeutic.htm
[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/238702/us-total-medical-prescriptions-issued/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4064831/
[4] https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/nhtsa-reports-drug-use-among-fatally-injured-drivers-increased-over-last-five-years
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24982537
[6] http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/11/numbers.aspx
[7] http://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2017.78.814
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24982537
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18338290
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5533809/
[11] http://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2017.78.805

 

4 Legal Suggestions to Prevent Marijuana Use Among Minors

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization

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As marijuana reform spreads throughout the country, a growing number of communities are legalizing or decriminalizing this increasingly popular drug.

One of the more serious issues that continue to arise is how best to keep these “adult” products out of the hands of children and minimize access to marijuana from those under the legal age of 21 years.

Many experts believe that reviewing the regulations and lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol regulations, which have proven very difficult to change, can provide a useful roadmap in protecting underage adolescents from gaining easy access to legalized marijuana.

Prominent researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggest four strategies to prevent marijuana use among minors.

1. Pricing.

The study suggests that regulators should use tax policies to keep prices high, using tobacco reports as a guide. “Research has shown that young people are particularly price sensitive and tend to reduce cigarette use at higher rates than adults after price increases,” stated one of the key researchers.

2. Retail Regulation.

Data reveals that “despite age-limit restrictions, many teens are able to obtain (illegal substances) in stores. This could be mitigated by stronger enforcement of existing laws, (increased) compliance audits and stiffer penalties. States should also regulate locations of marijuana retailers, such as keeping them away from playgrounds and schools, which research has shown can reduce risk of youth use.”

3. Product Design.

According to the authors, “… (in order) to prevent the harms of accidental ingestion by children…regulating the appearance of foods containing marijuana and reducing the amount of THC (marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient) in these foods (is needed).”

Child-friendly food formats, such as candy, bars, cookies and other “treats” are being sold with marijuana content. The potency and danger in these commonplace items varies considerably and may inflict detrimental consequences, especially in adolescents who are drawn in by the packaging or form of the product. The authors also call for childproof packaging to prevent accidental ingestion.

4. Marketing Restrictions.

Countless studies show that exposure to alcohol and tobacco advertising is associated with increases use by our kids. Limits on how and where marijuana products can be viewed and publicized should be controlled from the onset. A growing body of scientific researchsuggests that when adolescents are exposed to alcohol marketing with familiar imaging, it affects (increases) their drinking behavior.

The authors conclude with a thought shared by all of us, “Our number one priority has to be to keep our children safe.”

References:

[1] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/04/28/peds.2015-0436

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24986257


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.

The Relationship Between Stress and Addiction

August 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Health, People and Culture

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It should come as no surprise that stress and addiction are closely related. When we’re under stress, we seek out a method to deal with, and avoid uncomfortable feelings. Our mind and our bodies search for the easiest ways to reduce the stress.

While we all feel the strain of stress, we react to it in different ways. Some people handle it well on their own, some exercise, some meditate and unfortunately, some people turn to substances that can be easily abused.

The Connection

When we experience stressful situations, our bodies automatically release hormones that were designed to allow us to react to danger; the classic “fight or flight response,” also known as the acute stress response. In this situation, the heart pounds and breathing quickens.

Those under extreme stress may feel overwhelmed and are unable to cope with significant and unrelenting stress. Food, drugs, and alcohol all provide a release of the chemical dopamine and result in pleasurable emotions that contradict the stress.

Drugs and alcohol may provide a temporary calming effect, so a person may feel like their stress is gone. Unfortunately, this can lead to a dependence on the drugs or alcohol, at increasingly higher quantities, to help diminish stress levels.

Using these substances may help relieve the anxiety and tension, albeit, only in the short term. Unfortunately, when the drugs wear off, the person will experience the stress and unpleasant feelings again. Even people who are not hard-wired for addiction can be made dependent on drugs if they are stressed.

Supported by Research

Stress is a well-known risk factor in both the development of addiction and in addiction relapse, as published research reveals. [1]

  • One research group found that “before beginning substance use, the occurrence rate of various psychosocial stressors in opium addict patients was statistically higher than normal subjects in the last two-year period.” [1]
  • Studies have also discovered that stress levels contribute to the success of substance abuse recovery and actually lead to being vulnerable to
  • Stress was directly related to relapse, specifically in cocaine users. [2]
  • Stress can cause relapse even after a four to six-week drug-free period. [3]

Stress Management

All the data clearly points to the need for treatment of stress to reduce drug and alcohol dependence and prevent the occurrence of relapse.

If individuals believe they have problems with both stress and addiction, they should seek the assistance of a professional and incorporate these following suggestions in order to begin to live a sober life:

  • Ask for help. Alcohol and drug addiction rehab may include inpatient or outpatient care, individual or group therapy, and a 12-step program. You reduce stress or get clean alone.
  • Yoga, Meditation and Lifestyle Skills. These practices place a focus on mindfulness that allows you to be aware of your own thoughts and emotions. Meditation involves clearing your mind of stressful thoughts and focusing only on the present. By making lifestyle changes, studies demonstrate you can reduce your stress levels and gain control. [4]
  • Exercise. Regular exercise naturally makes you feel better by raising your body’s level of endorphins, which are linked to a positive mindset. These are the same endorphins your body releases while you abused substances. But when you exercise, you create a “natural high.” Your body will learn that it is capable of regulating its own brain chemistry and mood in healthy, natural ways.

A Final Thought

Stressful life events and ineffective coping strategies in addicts play a major role in the development of drug abuse and relapse. To help prevent the occurrence of severe stress and alcohol/drug abuse, skills such as stress prevention, must be taught.

Learning effective methods to manage stress is essential to long-term recovery. The addict must find a way to deal with stress in a healthy and productive manner so they will not revert to substance abuse when stress appears.

References:

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813018260

[2] http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2813%2900042-1

[3] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs002130050150


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.

 

How TV Alcohol Ads Impact Teen Drinking

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under People and Culture

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In October 2013, a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that alcohol is the most common drug used by young people and is responsible for over 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth. Meanwhile, data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that by age 15, more than 50 percent of teens have already had at least one drink and an estimated four out of five college students drink alcohol.

The results and consequences of underage drinking by minor children are absolutely horrifying, especially since these actions are largely preventable. Where are our youth viewing and how are they learning to emulate this destructive and deadly behavior?

Television’s Influence on Underage Drinking

In this media driven world, advertising is everywhere we look, every minute of every day. Alcoholic products are no exception. From television, pop up computer ads, advertisements on mobile devices, billboards, sporting events and more, there’s simply no way to avoid the onslaught of corporations trying to sell their intoxicating beverages.

The latest liquor ads are also intoxicating to our youth. These recent media vehicles associated with drinking alcohol focus on utilizing trendy music, enhancing romance, promoting the “coolness” factor and displaying fun entertainment occasions with liquor in the spotlight.

The celebrity actors featured in these branded commercials promote the message that drinking is for those individuals who are successful, confident and have a large social network.

Although beer commercials filmed around swimming pools or backyard barbeques are familiar, the latest entries to attract young drinkers spotlight superstars close to their age who are pushing hard liquor.

For example, the gorgeous Mila Kunis now stars multiple Jim Beam whiskey commercials. Justin Timberlake can be found in trendy and stylish clothes selling tequila. Even rapper Ludacris endorses his Conjure Cognac.

Although these popular celebrities cannot be shown to actually drink the beverage, it is clear that brands like “Hard Lemonade” and “Apple Orchard Hard Cider” are targeting a very young audience not just with their ads, but with their labels, product names, promotions and packaging.

Make no mistake about it. These sexy and enticing new marketing programs are captivating the attention of our youth.

A portion of the adult population doubts the concept that television advertising can actually influence negative behavior, but now there can be no dispute.

The New Study

The latest study, released in January 2015, found that television viewing habits have a powerful influence in child’s behavior.

This recent study published in  JAMA Pediatrics studied over 2,500 adolescents. The authors found evidence that:

  • “seeing and liking alcohol advertising on television among underage youths was associated with the onset of drinking”
  • “familiarity with images of television alcohol marketing was associated with the subsequent onset of drinking”
  • “underage youths (who) are exposed to and engaged by alcohol marketing… prompts initiation of drinking”
  • even more disturbing, the authors concluded from this data that “(not only does exposition to alcohol marketing initiate drinking, it also) transitions from trying to hazardous drinking.”

But there is hope. There is always hope.

The Surgeon General’s report suggests that The greatest influence on young people’s decisions to begin drinking is the world they live in, which includes their families, friends, schools, the larger community, and society as a whole.

  • If you are a parent, do not, under any circumstances, purchase alcohol for your underage child
  • No one knows your child as well as you do. Although it is “easier said than done,” families must be involved and pay attention to the daily activities of their kids
  • Parents and guardians cannot be afraid to intervene or confront their child if something appears to be wrong or if there is a change in behavior. It is likely that if you suspect your kid is engaging in dangerous behavior, it is true
  • Schools must help educate students on the dangers, repercussions and risks of drug and alcohol use. Role playing assists teenagers on developing strategies when encountering negative peer pressure
  • After-school enrichment programs and extra-curricular activities are of critical importance in keeping teenagers busy, motivated and focused
  • If you discover your underage offspring is using alcohol, get help as quickly as possible before the behavior escalates. Alcoholism treatment programs can help adolescents transform their behaviors, rebuild their lives and give them the childhood they deserve

TV Alcohol Ads and Its Impact on Teen Drinking

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In October 2013,a CDC (Center for Disease Control) studyrevealed that alcohol is the most common drug used by young people and it is responsible for over 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth. Furthermore, data from theNational Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reportsthat by age 15, more than 50% of teens have had at least one drink and an estimated four out of five college students drink alcohol.

The resultsand consequences of underage drinking by minor children are absolutely horrifying, especially since these actions are largely preventable. Where are our youth viewing and how are they learning to emulate this destructive and deadly behavior?

Television’s Influence on Underage Drinking

In this media driven world, advertising is everywhere we look, every minute of every day. Alcoholic products are no exception. Television, pop up computer ads, advertisements on mobile devices, bill boards, sporting events”¦there is simply no way to avoid the onslaught of corporations trying to sell their intoxicating beverages.

The latest liquor ads are also intoxicating to our youth. These recent media vehicles associated with drinking alcohol focus on utilizing trendy music, enhancing romance, promoting the “coolness” factor and displaying fun entertainment occasions with liquor in the spotlight.

The celebrity actors featured in these branded commercials promote the message that drinking is for those individuals who are successful, confident and have a large social network.
Although beer commercials filmed around swimming pools or backyard barbeques are familiar, the latest entries to attract young drinkers spotlight superstars close to their age who are pushing hard liquor.

For example, the gorgeous Mila Kunis now stars multiple Jim Beam whiskey commercials. Justin Timberlake can be found in trendy and stylish clothes selling tequila. Even rapperLudacrisendorses his Conjure Cognac.

Although these popular celebrities cannot be shown to actually drink the beverage, it is clear that brands like “Hard Lemonade” and “Apple Orchard Hard Cider” are targeting a very young audience”¦not just with their ads, but with their labels, product names, promotions and packaging.

Make no mistake about it. These sexy and enticing new marketing programs are captivating the attention of our youth.

A portion of the adult population doubts the concept that television advertising can actually influence negative behavior. But now there can be no dispute.

The latest study, released in January 2015, found that television viewing habits have a powerful influence in kid’s behavior.

This recent study published inJAMA Pediatricsstudied over 2,500 adolescents. The authors found evidence that:

  • “seeing and liking alcohol advertising on television among underage youths was associated with the onset of drinking”
  • “familiarity with images of television alcohol marketing was associated with the subsequent onset of drinking”
  • “underage youths (who) are exposed to and engaged by alcohol marketing… prompts initiation of drinking”
  • even more disturbing, theauthors concludedfrom this data that “(not only does exposition to alcohol marketing initiate drinking, it also) transitions from trying tohazardous drinking.”

But there is hope. There is always hope.

TheSurgeon General’s reportsuggests that The greatest influence on young people’s decisions to begin drinking is the world they live in, which includes their families, friends, schools, the larger community, and society as a whole.

  • If you are a parent, do not, under any circumstances, purchase alcohol for your underage child
  • No one knows your child as well as you do. Although it is “easier said than done,” families must be involved and pay attention to the daily activities of their kids
  • Parents and guardians cannot be afraid to intervene or confront their child if something appears to be wrong or if there is a change in behavior. It is likely that if you suspect your kid is engaging in dangerous behavior, it is true
  • Schools must help educate students on the dangers, repercussions and risks of drug and alcohol use. Role playing assists teenagers on developing strategies when encountering negative peer pressure
  • After-school enrichment programs and extra-curricular activities are of critical importance in keeping teenagers busy, motivated and focused
  • If you discover your underage offspring is using alcohol, get help as quickly as possible before the behavior escalates. Alcoholism treatment programs can help adolescents transform their behaviors, rebuild their lives and give them the childhood they deserve

AudreyBeim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Shehas 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.

Treating Addiction as a Chronic Disease

January 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Treatment and Recovery News

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man thinking moody portrait, sitting at autumn park, selective focus

In November of last year, the US Surgeon General issued a ground-breaking report on addiction. It reiterated what many alcohol and drug abuse counselors believe: that addiction is a chronic illness and not a moral failure.

Nearly 21 million Americans were directly affected by drug or alcohol addiction last year, but just one in ten received treatment.

Needless to say, addiction is often misunderstood. The person abusing the substance often believes they can quit whenever they want to. Regretfully, this is a myth. Family and friends also often believe that addicts simply lack willpower and could really quit if they wanted to do so.

Addiction and the Brain

Though it’s true that the initial decision to take drugs may be voluntary, repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that alter the chemical structure and inhibit self-control. Research has shown that drugs and alcohol can negatively affect the brain, often making it impossible to quit without professional and/or medical intervention.

Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward center” by releasing the chemical dopamine that controls the body’s ability to feel pleasure. Taking drugs that affect dopamine leads to temporary emotions of excitement and exhilaration. This motivates a person to repeat the behavior and creates a pleasurable “high” that encourages continuous use of the drug again and again, even though the action is destructive.

Over time, the brain adjusts to higher dopamine levels, forcing the person to take an increasing amount of the substance to reach the same euphoria. It is no longer about willpower; it is a matter of a chemical reaction in the brain that has become unmanageable.

Effective Addiction Programs

As with most chronic diseases, addiction can be treated, but may never be completely cured. It’s common for a person to relapse. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says 40-60% of alcoholics and addicts will experience a relapse. However, this does not mean that sobriety is altogether a lost cause.

Effective addiction treatment programs support patients in exploring and implementing methods to avoid relapse and ultimately to stop abusing drugs. Rehabilitation helps the addict focus on coping skills and making better choices while avoiding triggers and managing cravings. Interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy, medical treatments, and family support are just a few of the treatments used to break the cycle of addiction. Creating new habits and rewiring the brain develops new and healthy routines and behaviors. A strong social support network is essential to remain on track and serves to remind an individual why they dedicated themselves to recovery in the first place.

Addiction is a powerful and complex disease. Ultimately, recovery requires an individual to take responsibility for their actions, commit to on-going treatment and embrace a passion for a life without drug abuse. As US Surgeon General Murphy stated in his landmark report, “We must help everyone see that addiction is not a character flaw – it is a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”

References:

1. http://www.sciencealert.com/the-surgeon-general-has-issued-a-report-calling-addiction-a-brain-disease

2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain

3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

 


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.

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

November 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization

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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.

Bath Salts: An Overview

August 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Health, Treatment and Recovery News

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As summer comes to an end, thousands of parents are preparing to send their young teenagers off to college. And with new found freedom, these young adults may be tempted and influenced to explore drugs that were never known before, such as bath salts.

Decades ago, in a much more innocent time and place, bath salts were an innocent product that was dissolved in bath water to soften or perfume the water.

Fast forward to today and, with all the changes in our society, bath salts have emerged as a new monster in addiction. Bath salts is the informal, slang term for a new group of man-made designer drugs becoming well-known as a synthetic drug with mood-altering and stimulant properties, typically in the form of crystals. Bath salts derives its name exclusively due to their appearance.

Teens are often drawn to bath salts because they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive to buy.

Regretably, it is difficult to predict how bath salts will affect each and every individual who takes them. Bath salts contain synthetic cathinones and act like a stimulant with effects similar to amphetamines. Paranoia, agitation and a racing heart are common, and according to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, these symptoms can begin in just 15 minutes and last for four to six hours.

Additional indicators of bath salt intoxication include feeling intently focused with an unusually high level of energy.

The dangers of bath salts are compounded by the fact that these products are frequently a mixture of “mystery” ingredients and may contain unknown compounds that may cause their own harmful effects.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse for Teens revealed that bath salts have been involved in thousands of visits to the emergency room.

  • In 2011 there were 22,904 reports of bath salts use during emergency room visits.
  • About two thirds of those visits involved bath salts in combination with other drugs.

Bath salts can become easily addictive, and it can be difficult for teens to overcome the addiction without outside and professional help. The treatment of bath salts often involves using medication to decrease the signs of anxiety and other nervous behavior. In addition, as it is for many other drug addictions treatment involves medical monitoring by qualified physicians.

Often, teens who have taken bath salts on a regular basis need help from a reputable rehab program. Do not be deceived by the innocuous name of this drug. It can be more destructive than its name implies.


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.

Cocaine’s Effects on the Brain: Impulsive Behavior

July 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Treatment and Recovery News

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77490More than 800,000 people in the United States suffer from cocaine addiction. They are known to be highly impulsive without regard to negative consequences, possibly due to increased cocaine relapse. Many scientists speculate that this impulsivity may serve as an important behavioral target for the development of relapse prevention medications.

In attempt to end cocaine addiction, medical researchers have searched for a medication that can help end this dependency. Regretfully, many of these past attempts did not see complete success, but they’ve shown hope.

A new scientific study has discovered that the brain function of cocaine addicted people who demonstrate highly impulsive behavior differs from the brain activity of those who are not addicted. During this research, the left caudate, which is a brain structure known to control motor function, performed differently between cocaine users and non-cocaine users when answering specific questions.

To measure impulsivity in the study, scientists used a common test called the “Go/NoGo task.” This monitors a person’s ability to inhibit an impulsive response. More on how this task is administered can be found here.

The findings led researchers to believe that “Targeting altered brain connections in cocaine addiction for therapeutic development is a fresh idea, offering a whole new arena for research and the potential to promote abstinence and prevent relapse in these vulnerable individuals.”

The Brain During Relapse

In addition, a report published last month examined how cocaine can alter the brain, leading to more common relapses addicts. The process is a bit intricate to understand, but provides incredible insight for the possibility of reducing relapses.

The findings suggest that stress may cause “profound changes” in the brain and therefore, play a role in increasing the risk of relapse in cocaine addiction addicts.

This new research pinpointed a mechanism in the “reward center” of the brain that identifies how cocaine addicts relapse after stressful events.

Perhaps more importantly, this animal study detected a potential mechanism for protecting against such relapses.

Here is what took place during the research:

  • Researchers focused on neuropeptides which are “messenger molecules” that carry information between neurons in the brain and form the brain’s communications system.
  • Scientists discovered that there was direct communication between the neuroreceptors controlling stress and neuroreceptors controlling reward.

They concluded that “Our research showed that cocaine disrupts the interaction between receptors and these changes… [This] could increase the risk of relapse under stressful conditions.”

The next step is to design a process that can restore this broken interaction between neuroceptors to minimize stress-driven relapse in cocaine addicts.

These two recent studies certainly provide hope and provide the foundation and opportunity for the development of new, more targeted methods for reducing addiction-based relapses, especially with the highly dependent drug, cocaine.

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.

Prescription Drug Abuse: Teenagers Get Legally High

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girl holding prescription pillsLegal drugs, including painkillers like OxyContin, now kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). A 2015 research study suggests that the deadly consequences are often seen in teenagers as they remain unaware of the significant physical dangers from readily available prescription drugs.

The CDC has labeled this dire situation among our youth as an “epidemic” as 44 people in the United States die from overdose of prescription painkillers. The trend, the organization states, continues to increase and hit adolescent aged individuals due to problematic practices.

“Prescription drugs are seen as blessed by a trusted institution, the FDA, while increasingly aggressive advertising by drug companies simultaneously floods parents and children with messages that these substances are safe, popular, and beneficial,” lead researcher Richard Netemeyer and his colleagues wrote in The Legal High: Factors Affecting Young Consumers’ Risk Perceptions and Abuse of Prescription Drugs.

The Current Research

This latest nationwide study went directly to the teens via an internet survey and requested information in these areas:

  1. Their use of substances including alcohol, tobacco and both legal and illegal drugs.
  2. Whether they struggle with anxiety and/or a desire to be popular.
  3. The level of risk they associated with prescription drugs.

The findings revealed:

  1. Prescription drug use increased in direct proportion to psychological states such as anxiety.
  2. Use of legal prescriptions increased the use of other restricted substances such as alcohol.
  3. Male teens with a high need to be popular and teens in general appear to be at exceptional risk.
  4. Prescription drug abuse accelerated exponentially among this demographic, such as when the level of anxiety or desire to be popular was at its very highest.

What’s Next?

Many experts believe his segment of prescription drug abuse can be avoided with adult involvement. As grown-ups, it is our responsibility to counsel and provide healthy coping mechanisms for our teens when they experience high levels of anxiety.

Providing information, knowledge and support can help in advance of teenagers experimenting with prescription drugs.

The study’s investigators concluded that, “Campaigns must target parents … since they clearly underestimate both the physical risks of prescription drugs and the likelihood that their children will abuse these drugs.”

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.

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