Tide Detergents Stolen in Exchange for Drugs

April 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Treatment and Recovery News


shelves of tide in grocery aisleCall it customer loyalty or call it “liquid gold,” the new street name for Tide liquid detergent. Thieves in New York and some other areas along the East Coast have one specific brand in mind when they shoplift from supermarkets, bodegas and discount stores (such as Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.).

Considered a number-one target for theft, Tide detergent remains at the top of a list of consumer products that have gained strong survival during the economic downturn of the last 8 years. Along with two other producers, Kraft and Coca Cola, Tide is a brand that few people will leave to use discount products.

Because of this popularity with consumers, it has become a hugely desired item in East Coast black market streets. Lower incidence is seen on the West Coast, although reports were made of a high-speed chase following a detergent robbery in California.

Recognizing the high level of theft that this product receives, police began to investigate what was happening with Tide and found that it was the number one item being stolen from retailers. One city in Bowie, Maryland reported losses of $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 per month in this one product alone.

What’s Really Happening

Thieves are selling Tide on the streets for less than the nearly $20.00 per bottle it draws in the marketplace and most of the money made from the sales is going for drugs. In fact, thieves who were willing to talk about their use of the detergent reported that a single bottle could be exchanged for $5.00 in cash or $10.00 in weed or crack cocaine.

The idea of customer loyalty to the point where families will buy black market Tide is a serious indicator of hard times. Approximately 30 percent of the money going toward laundry detergent is spent on this product, which remains at the top of the list of products that have the strongest name identification; and consumers insist on using only this brand.

The exchange of detergent for drugs is an interesting market trade. While there were no comments available from the manufacturers, this can hardly be a source of good advertising for them. It appears that clean clothes are precious enough to exchange for drugs in today’s economy.


NewYork Magazine. Suds for Drugs. Tide detergent: Works on tough stains. Can now also be traded for crack. A case study in American ingenuity, legal and otherwise. Retrieved online from: http://nymag.com/news/features/tide-detergent-drugs

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.

Breathalyzer Test for Marijuana Soon Available

November 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization


police officer holding breathalyzerThe U.S. Office of National Control Policy has put drugged driving on its list of priorities and a breathalyzer test for marijuana may soon be on its way. Marijuana is considered one of the drugs that can negatively impact a person’s driving as its use affects motor skills, judgment and perception, all of which are necessary to safely operate a vehicle.

Annually, about 1.5 million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 18 percent of fatal car accidents are attributed to drugs other than alcohol, including marijuana.

How It Works

The marijuana breathalyzer test will follow the same concept as the traditional alcohol breathalyzer test by detecting the substance in exhaled breath at the scene. In this case, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana and the main target to detect in the test.

The Pros and Cons

Pros to the marijuana breathalyzer test:

  • Screen drivers for marijuana use on-the-spot, at the side of the road
  • A Swedish study found the marijuana breathalyzer detects use in 87 percent of cases, which is the the same level of accuracy achieved through blood and urine testing

Cons to the marijuana breathalyzer test:

  • There is a short detection window of 30 minutes to two hours after drug use
  • Marijuana does not metabolize as predictably in the body as alcohol
  • 25 percent of chronic stoners can test positive after one week or more of abstinence, depending upon their body fat content–so a sober user may fail a breathalyzer test and be arrested for DUI, even though they haven’t been using
  • Drug detection time does not always coincide with impairment time, which may lead to innocent drivers being convicted of DUI

Testing the Effectiveness

The efficacy of marijuana breathalyzers remains in question. The pertinent statistics include:

  • 91 percent of users tested positive one hour after using; 64 percent after 1 ½ hours
  • One confirmed user never had detectable THC
  • One chronic user still showed positive results four hours later

To make a thorough assessment of the effectiveness of drug breathalyzer testing, the science of how drugs enter the breath and how long drugs stay in the breath still needs further study and evaluation.

The driving impairment window is longer than the 30 minutes to 2 hour breath detection window of time. This makes authorities question the validity of breathalyzer testing.

Recent Findings About DUI

The American Journal of Public Health recently reported:

  • More teens are driving high
  • Those who use marijuana within three hours of driving are twice as likely to cause a serious motor vehicle accident as those who did not use marijuana

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) developed a breath test that detects marijuana use within the previous 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending upon frequency of use. Studies done to test this method were conducted on chronic or >4 times/week users and occasional users.

Clinical Chemistry reports that 90 percent of users in these studies tested positive within one hour of getting high.Only everyday stoners tested positive after four hours. Ninety percent of occasional users tested positive one hour after smoking but none of these subjects tested positive after 1½ hours.

The Swedish study recommends the breathalyzer test be used at the scene as a preliminary test, and that the results be confirmed later with a blood test.

Interestingly, roadside saliva testing for cannabis has been done in Europe and Australia and detects the drug for up to 48 hours. This finding also raises a concern about whether or not detection actually coincides with impairment.

Current Laws for Marijuana-Related DUIs

Some states, especially those that have legalized recreational use of the drug, have marijuana blood limits:

  • Colorado and Washington: 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood is considered under the influence
  • Other states such as Arizona and Oklahoma have a zero tolerance law
  • New York has an effect-based law, which means that the driver must be visibly impaired while driving (no blood test)

THC-blood tests are the most popular choice in states with laws regulating marijuana use while driving.

Though more research must be done before finalizing the breathalyzer test, no one should ever get behind the wheel if there is any level of impairment.

Nancy Burgess is a graduate of Laboure College in Boston, MA, where she earned an Associate of Science degree in Nursing. She is a registered nurse with experience with direct patient care and nursing management. Nancy has worked in an acute care hospital setting and in an independent school environment.

What Is Synthetic Marijuana?

October 8, 2014 by  
Filed under General Topics


TGDGmarijuanaThe average citizen in the U.S. is familiar with marijuana, at least anecdotally. Nearly half of the states in the country have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, and two states – Colorado and Washington – have legalized marijuana for recreational use. For many people living in the 48 U.S. states where marijuana is not legal for recreational use, a legal alternative has become popular over the last few years: synthetic marijuana. This mock cannabis is widely accessible and notably dangerous.

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic Marijuana is considered a “designer drug” with effects that are intended to mimic the effects of real marijuana. Two popular brand names for this drug are K2 and Spice. These two drugs contain synthetic cannabinoids that are similar to THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component found in actual marijuana. The synthetic cannabinoids that are used in synthetic marijuana are considered unsafe, causing extreme anxiety or psychotic episodes in many instances, and have been banned in some European countries for years. The U.S. also banned these synthetic cannabinoids in July 2012. However, synthetic marijuana sales continue legally today because many brands have simply replaced the synthetic cannabinoids that had been banned with others that are not.

Despite the assumed similarities between synthetic marijuana and actual marijuana, the differences are stark. Synthetic marijuana is considerably more unpredictable and dangerous than real marijuana. The use of synthetic marijuana has been associated with acute psychosis, the worsening of mental illness (even if stable at the time of use), hypertension, accelerated heart rate, heart attack, seizures, hallucinations, convulsions, panic attacks, high blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, agitation, and long-term psychotic disorder for those who were already at risk for mental illness.

There has been at least one death associated with the use of synthetic marijuana and several deaths that are being investigated in association with the use of this drug. A teenage girl who used synthetic marijuana daily for two weeks experienced several strokes, brain damage, blindness, and paralysis.

Because of a lack of oversight and regulation of this product, effects and ingredients seem to vary widely from batch to batch. A German lab that tested synthetic marijuana concluded that the ingredients listed on the packet were not an accurate representation of the ingredients contained within the product itself.

Effects of Synthetic Marijuana

There are many negative side effects from use of synthetic marijuana. The substance has been linked to serious health conditions and even death. The immediate effects of synthetic marijuana are said to be similar to those of real marijuana, but more short-lived. Many users of synthetic marijuana have claimed to experience a simple feeling of relaxation after using the drug.

Synthetic marijuana is especially popular among high school students. The drug is difficult to detect through drug testing. When compared to actual marijuana, synthetic marijuana is much more powerful. Marijuana activists have been outspoken about their disapproval of synthetic marijuana – especially its name. Many people believe that “synthetic marijuana” is a dangerous misnomer, leading users to assume that the drug is not as dangerous as actual marijuana when, in fact, the consensus is that this drug is highly dangerous.

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.

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