Common High-Hazard Employment Factors which can lead to Drug or Alcohol Dependency

When not employed in a high-hazard work environment, it can be difficult to assess factors such as stress level, labor intensity, coworker interaction, lower management-employee interaction, and actual physical danger. While first-hand knowledge of all of these factors is not required in order to successfully run a corporation, employer-employee relations, and therefore productivity level, can improve by keeping some of these factors in mind.

Stress levels are not only high in hazardous industries, but can increase based upon the speed of production or physical movement within these industries.[1] Hard physical labor does not necessarily increase stress levels, but quick and time-dependent labor certainly does. It is during fast movement that production, machinery and personal mistakes are more likely to occur, endangering employees even further. Also, quick, active movement triggers adrenaline secretion, which tells the body that there is a potential threat. The combination of these factors keeps stress levels high in industries such as aviation and mining.

Coworker interaction is another important factor in the possibility of drug or alcohol abuse in hazardous industries. This is commonly known as “drama,” and affects relations between coworkers and between different layers of management. These interactions during stressful and hazardous labor tend to be accompanied by raised voices, minor threats, cursing, visible frustration, anger and power-plays. Whether or not your employees are testing positive in drug and alcohol screening, danger increases when the drama of the workplace increases.

Temperamental or emotionally-unbalanced employees can become explosive and unpredictable under these circumstances. Management can induce strong feelings of bitterness or resentment in their staff by abusing power-plays and threats.[2] In either of these cases, drug or alcohol abuse is more likely to occur in order to stimulate the neurological reward system within the brain.

Keeping drug and alcohol abuse at a minimum involves taking greater personal responsibility for the social and emotional interactions of the hard-labor employees. While substance abuse can be illegal or go against company regulations, employees are more likely to engage in it when they feel that this is necessary in order to maintain emotional balance while they are in their hazardous working environment.[3]

Another, less controllable factor is if members of staff begin employment with a preexisting substance abuse addiction. This can be partially eliminated with pre-employment screening, but this possibility cannot be entirely foreseen since some employees refrain from substance abuse while looking for a job.

Keeping your staff in reasonable stress conditions can eliminate much of the substance abuse occurring in their working environment. High-hazard industries, such as mining, may use labor unions to effectively communicate with workers, but a more personal approach may be just as effective when dealing with smaller groups of employees.

For more information on drug testing or to purchase drug tests, call CMM Technology on +618-9204-2500 or drop them a line at sales@cmm.com.au.

    1. “Triggering of Acute Myocardial Infarction by Heavy Physical Exertion – Protection Against Triggering by Regular Exertion.” The New England Journal of Medicine. N.p., 2 Dec. 1993. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199312023292301.
    2. Goodman, Gerald. “A Fragmented Patient Safety Concept: The Structure and Culture of Safety Management in Healthcare.” Heldref Publications. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://heldref-publications.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,3,6;journal,31,54;linkingpublicationresults,1:119927,1
    3. Beck, Aaron T.. Cognitive therapy of substance abuse . New York: Guilford Press, 1993. Print.

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Signs and Symptoms of Prescription and Non-Prescription Opiate Abuse

Prescription opiates, such as Demerol or Codeine-containing syrups, and non-prescription opiates, including Heroin and unrefined Opium resin are considered “downers” which calm the user, as opposed to “uppers” which excite and energise the user. The most common forms of opiates are Morphine, Codeine, Thebaine and Papaverine. Prescription opiates include but are not limited to Panadeine Forte, Tramadol, Hydrocodone, Acetaminophen, Ultram, Percocet, Morphine, Codeine, Endone, Proladone, Durogesic, Sublimaze and Oxycontin. Opiates are highly addictive and the mid nineteenth century to about the mid twentieth century found plenty of opium dens throughout France, Canada, London, New York and San Francisco and of course China.

As with other “downers,” opiate use produces a calming and soothing effect on the body.[1] Physical symptoms of opiate abuse are marked if the abuse is not in the early stages. Listlessness and irritability are the most obvious signs, but the evidence really stacks up when it comes to just how addicted the individual really is.

Endorphins in the body are natural “opiates” which give off a calm, relaxing, safe feeling and kick in after pain is incurred upon the system. Imagine that you have an itch. Scratching the itch produces small, short-term pain, which then signals an endorphin release so that you do not feel the pain anymore. Endorphins flow steadily throughout the body on a regular basis and increase in areas where pain, injury or suffering has occurred. Now imagine scratching your itch without the release of endorphins. Yes, the itch would stop but a lot sooner than you might think. The pain from the scratch is not covered up by endorphin release and so this pain is particularly strong and obvious, with no soothing effect following. Opiates such as Heroin and Morphine are essentially synthetic endorphins and, after being abused on even a semi-regular basis, your body will stop producing natural endorphins. The physical, daily need for endorphin regulation will make an opiate addiction particularly strong.[2]

Because of the prevalent need to replace natural endorphins, opiate addicts will also exhibit outward characteristics such as lying, stealing, secretiveness, withdrawal from society, alternate periods of apathy and excited states of energy, depression, uncoordinated movement and, of course, high irritability. Remember, they do not produce their normal daily endorphin levels which soothe and eliminate irritation. This is important to remember both in private interaction and in workplace environments. Although opiate abuse is calming to the individual which means that they are less likely to cause violence than with other drugs, this scenario can be completely reversed if they find themselves without their daily drug and withdrawal symptoms can mean that the person is extremely distracted amongst many other signs..

Most drug tests will detect opiate use/abuse and confirmatory testing should be able to identify the type of opiate used and whether it is consistent with any declared medications. For more information on drug testing or to purchase drug tests, call CMM Technology on +618-9204-2500 or drop them a line at sales@cmm.com.au.

1. “Arch Gen Psychiatry — Abstract: Diagnosis and Symptoms of Depression in Opiate Addicts: Course and Relationship to Treatment Outcome, February 1982, Rounsaville et al. 39 (2): 151.” Archives of General Psychiatry, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by AMA. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/39/2/151.
2. “Opiate Addiction — WIKLER 105 (1): 74 — Am J Psychiatry.” The American Journal of Psychiatry. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/pdf_extract/105/1/74.

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The role of front-line supervisors in detecting drug and alcohol abuse

Front-line supervision

Front-line supervisors spend more time with the workforce than any other level of management. They interface directly, on the job with employees. The main task of supervisors is to ensure that the work gets done by those reporting to them. They are held responsible for the productivity and behaviour of the employees reporting to them. Therefore, any action that affects these employees’ productivity and behaviour is of concern to the supervisor.

Drug and alcohol abuse/misuse is an increasing problem in Australia. In 1998 the cost to the economy was estimated at $16 billion and by 2004 the cost estimate was up to $24 billion. (Lauder, 2008). These costs are related to sickness, premature death, reduced productivity, crime and accidents. Drug and alcohol abuse/misuse affects the productivity not only of the employees themselves, but also of other employees.

Importance of training in drug and alcohol abuse/misuse for supervisors

In order to be effective in detecting drug and alcohol abuse/misuse supervisors need to be adequately trained. This training should include:

  • Company policy on drug and alcohol abuse/misuse
  • What is drug and alcohol abuse/misuse
  • Effects of drug and alcohol abuse/misuse in the workplace
  • How to detect drug and alcohol abuse/misuse
  • Company policy and practice in drug and alcohol testing

The role of drug and alcohol testing in the workplace

“Employee drug and alcohol testing is intended to ensure workplace safety, security and productivity.”

Employees who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol are a danger in the workplace; not only to themselves, but also to their co-workers. It is, therefore, important to test workers regularly. It is also important that this testing is done within the confines of the law and your company policy. You cannot just ask an employee to take a breathalyser test or collect a urine or saliva sample without several things being in place first. To learn how to collect samples correctly, register for the Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector – Nationally Accredited Training at CMM Technology. This training covers the following Australian Standards:

  • AS4308:2008 (Urine Drug Testing)
  • AS4760:2006 (Saliva Drug Testing)
  • AS3547 (Breath Alcohol Testing)

Guidelines for drug and alcohol abuse detection by supervisors

Supervisors need to look out for the following signs of drug and alcohol abuse/misuse:

  • Missed appointments, sick days, drunkenness or “on a high” on the job.
  • Relatives phoning in to explain why the employee is not at work.
  • Unexplained absences from work station.
  • Lack of tolerance of co-workers.
  • Irritability, restlessness, shakiness, trembling, sweating.
  • Regularly complaining of headaches.
  • Unexplained fatigue.
  • Not eating at lunch breaks.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Pupils larger or smaller than usual.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Coordination problems.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Seems paranoid for no reason.

If the supervisor suspects drug or alcohol misuse, the Drug and Alcohol policy of the company must be followed.

Conclusion

Drug and alcohol abuse/misuse can be a serious problem in the workplace and the front-line supervisor is in the ideal position to detect abuse/misuse. If equipped with the correct knowledge and skills the supervisor can detect drug and alcohol abuse/misuse at an early stage and can refer the employee for testing, counselling and treatment.

CMM Technology offers both saliva and urine-based drug testing products and an assortment of high quality alcohol breathalysers. We offer training and information on implementing these devices. For expert assistance on a quality workplace drug and alcohol testing solution,


Bibliography

Adulterant Tests. (2010). Retrieved January 09, 2011, from CMM Technologies: http://cmm.com.au/drug-alcohol-testing-urine-drug-testing-adulterant-tests-p-26.html?cPath=43_51

Alcohol Testing. (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/drug-alcohol-testing-alcohol-testing-c-43_52.html

Lauder, S. (2008, April 09). Report reveals Australia’s drug-use price tag. Retrieved January 10, 2011, from ABC News: http:www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/09/2211810.htm

Melinda Smith, M. a. (2010, November). Drug Abuse and Addiction. Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drug Problems and Substance Abuse. Retrieved January 09, 2011, from HELPGUIDE.org: http://helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm

Melinda Smith, M. a. (2010, November). Drug Abuse and Addiction. Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drug Problems and Substance Abuse. Retrieved January 09, 2011, from HELPGUIDE.org: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm

Melinda Smith, M., & Lawrence Robinson, a. J. (2010, November). Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drinking Problems. Retrieved January 09, 2011, from HELPGUIDE.org: http://helpguide.org/mental/alcohol_abuse_alcoholism_signs_effects_treatment.htm

Saliva Drug Testing . (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology.

Saliva Drug Testing . (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/drug-alcohol-testing-saliva-drug-testing-c-43_50.html

Technology, C. (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/index.php

Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector . (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology.

Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector . (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/services-training-drug-alcohol-training-certified-collector-training-p-101.html?cPath=57_63_62

Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector. (2010). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/services-training-drug-alcohol-training-certified-collector-training-p-101.html?cPath=57_63_62

Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing. (2010, December). Retrieved December 20, 2010, from Private Healthcare UK: http://www.privatehealth.co.uk/workplace-health/drug-alcohol-testing/

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Emotional Distancing in Your Staff

How does emotional distancing in the workplace relate to drug and alcohol abuse? Not only can emotional distancing be a sign of substance abuse, but it can also cause or indirectly lead to substance abuse.

Often, when employees are abusing or nearly abusing alcohol or drugs, they become quite careful in their movements, controlling their demeanor, watching what they say, and consequently acting out of character. [1]

Their normal behavior, which most people do not pay attention to, is not something they feel that they should control. Not knowing what they normally say and do leads them to withdraw both verbally and physically in the workplace and particularly in situations where they might display unnatural behavior due to their abuse.

Employees feel that others know how they normally act, so they must be extra cautious not to display uncharacteristic behavior. This caution can lead to physically withdrawing from social interactions, groups and crowded areas of the workplace. It can also lead to silence or near silence in verbal conversation, due to fear of exposure. [2]

In addition to this, emotional distancing can be a factor in encouraging drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace. Since time at the workplace consists of such a large part of their overall waking hours, employees must find their job enjoyable, productive and feel as if they are contributing to the greater good of the company, or at least their part of the workforce. One of the best ways to make an employee feel depressed and anxious is to act as if their contribution is meaningless.

In a study performed by Alicia Grandey, she states that employees deal with the stresses of the workplace environment, such as dangerous jobs and dealing with potentially armed criminals, by emotionally distancing themselves from their coworkers, clients and even their families. This emotional distancing can have many negative side effects. [3]

Frances Bell asserts that emotional cutoff or distancing in any situation, including the workplace, starves our need to feel accepted and a part of a group, be it family, coworkers or friends. This emotional cutoff increases anxiety and can be the partial cause for substance abuse. [4] Employees need to feel as if they are contributing to the greater good of the business or organization. If they are not behaving like themselves, or if they are pushed into the far corners of the production cycle, abuse may exist.

If you would like more information on drug and alcohol testing and testing equipment, please contact CMM Technology by phone (+618-9204-2500) or by fax (+618-9204-2522).

  1. 1. Crandall, Rick, and Pamela L. Perrewe. Occupational stress: a handbook. Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Francis, 1995. Print.
  2. 2. Perrewe, Pamela L., and Daniel C. Ganster. Exploring theoretical mechanisms and perspectives . Amsterdam: JAI, 2001. Print.
  3. 3. Grandey, Alicia. “Emotion Regulation in the Workplace: A New Way to Conceptualize Emotional Labor.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Jan. 2011. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/books.htm?chapterid=1757223&show=pdf.
  4. 4. Bell, Frances. “Emotional Cutoff in Women Who Abuse Substances.” Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-09122000-10580012/unrestricted/Bell.PDF.

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Signs and Symptoms of Spice Addiction

“Spice” or “K2” is a synthetic form of cannabis, or marijuana. Synthetic cannabis is known to induce similar effects of “being high” in the body. This was at one time believed to be a legal way to get the same high as natural cannabis, but that has since been disproved through research.

The conclusions of the research were that Spice does, indeed, have synthetic cannabinoids, [1] which produce similar results as natural cannabinoids, such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). These synthetic cannabinoids, which include HU-210, JWH-018, JWH-073, and CP-47-497 (also named Cannabicyclohexanol) are used to get around the illegality of natural marijuana, and therefore make Spice a designer drug. Products similar to Spice which are sprayed with these cannabinoids are also known as Skunk, Smoke, Zohai, Genie, and Yucatan Fire. [2]

Spice is noted to have different side effects on the human body than marijuana use. Side effects from Spice usage can be variable and unpredictable. This unpredictable state can cause a wide variety of dangerous and semi-dangerous physical conditions. Many times, the herbal ingredients listed on the packet are not the only chemical compounds found in Spice. These herbs are often sprayed, and many other substances have been found in various “Spice” mixtures.

Side effects include uncomfortable, internal disquiet, extreme headaches, strong nausea, various small forms of hallucinations, tremors or “the shakes,” and, of course, plenty of sweating. Feelings of numbness accompanied with or preceded by small electrical shocks have been known. Heavy shaking of the body or even vomiting can occur in infrequent cases, especially if the herbal mixture is tainted by unknown substances. [2]

Nervousness or slight paranoia can set in. [3] Withdrawal symptoms of the drug can almost completely destroy the chances of quiet, undisturbed sleep, so a symptom of Spice addiction can also include extreme tiredness and bloodshot eyes. The effects of Spice seem to be less euphoric than marijuana and, while still high, produce a calm and relaxed state, but that this state soon leaves if deprived of the substance longer than twelve hours. [4] Similarly to cannabis, strong feelings of hunger are accompanied with Spice addiction.

Evidence of Spice addiction should be pretty obvious, especially since the various forms and combinations of materials are not uniform or necessarily predictable, so strange and unforeseen behavior can result from its usage.

For drug testing information, contact CMM Technology by calling (+618-9204-2500) or faxing (+618-9204-2522) us or by sending us a message on our web site.

1. “What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018 : Terra Sigillata.” ScienceBlogs. ScienceBlogs.com, n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. http://scienceblogs.com/terrasig/2010/02/k2_spice_jwh018_marijuana.php.

2. “Withdrawal Phenomena and Dependence Syndrome After the Consumption of “Spice Gold”.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719097/.

3. Bryner, Jeanna. “Fake Weed, Real Drug: K2 Causing Hallucinations in Teens | LiveScience.” LiveScience | Science, Technology, Health & Environmental News. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. http://www.livescience.com/health/fake-marijuana-k2-hallucinations-100303.html.

4. “The synthetic cannabinoid Spice as a trigger for an acute exacerbation of cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes.” Schizophrenia Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. http://www.schres-journal.com/article/S0920-9964%2809%2900591-X/abstract.

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Random Testing in the Workplace Can Increase Trust

While many employers may fear that random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace will be seen as a violation of privacy by the employees, the opposite is true. Employees respect and feel safe in the environments of employers who provide adequate Human Resource management, such as equal pay, standard procedural reactions to workplace disagreements, accommodations for the disabled, and drug and alcohol testing.

In a report by Teresa Daniel,[1] conflict between employees and employers are typically an emotional reaction which has escalated, not only into a lawsuit or claims report filed against the company, but also inclusion of specific employers and members of management as part of the legal complaint. Obviously, the relationship between management and lower staff needs to be dealt with in a professional and safe manner. According to Daniel, much of the original problem began as a result of employees feeling that they are receiving unequal, disrespectful or unsafe treatment. The question of safety, at the very least, can be addressed to some degree through proper and complete drug and alcohol testing procedures.

Furthermore, the issue of the “right to privacy” by employees may have more to do with confidentiality with regard to the reporting of test results, rather than limitations in drug testing itself.[2] Societal restrictions and unreasonable public reaction are reasons to keep this information largely, if not entirely, confidential for the sake of the employee. However, the question of employment, job promotion or status change within the company can be valid reasons for random drug and alcohol testing and record keeping. Your business has a right to demand quality from its staff, both long-term and short-term.

The benefits of drug testing in the workplace can even be two-fold. In a study conducted by Osterloh and Becker,[3] it was determined that fear of consequences when receiving tests not only prevents heavy or dangerous drug usage, but also strongly encourages workers to exercise more caution in general when administering their duties. The return to care and caution by the employees actually doubles the effect of safe environment building within the workplace.

The results are that drug and alcohol testing in the workplace not only contributes to the safety of your staff, but also helps to build positive employer-employee trust and long-term relationships. The resulting atmosphere of safety and security also encourages employees to exercise more caution when performing regular tasks.

CMM Technology offers both saliva and urine-based drug testing products and an assortment of high quality alcohol breathalysers. We offer training and information on implementing these devices and standardized legal procedures within your business.

1. Daniel, Teresa. “Tools for building a positive employee relations environment – Daniel – 2003 – Employment Relations Today – Wiley Online Library.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ert.10086/abstract.

2. “ScienceDirect – Journal of Applied Psychology : Perceived Fairness of Employee Drug Testing as a Predictor of Employee Attitudes and Job Performance.” ScienceDirect – Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WY3-46VV9JR-B&_user=10&_coverDate=10%2F31%2F1991&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1553075893&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_vers.

3. “Chemical Dependency and Drug Testing in the Workplace.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1002403/pdf/westjmed00117-0044.pdf.

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Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse

Methamphetamine, or Meth, abuse is an all too common problem within personal and work environments. Chemically, meth is a psychotic stimulant which triggers a cascading chain reaction of neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.[1] These are part of the “reward system,” which activate after a job well done, family bonding, support of personal safety and care, and contentment with personal identity. Obviously, these chemical releases are powerful motivators and internal forces for receiving pleasure and satisfaction. When these neurotransmitters are over-stimulated, the person receives an enjoyable “high.” Meth severely over-stimulates these chemical balances and the result is deep dissatisfaction when the effect of the drug has worn off. Depression, paranoia, and a lot of sleeping are prevalent factors when abusing meth. What are some signs and symptoms of meth abuse in others?

Long-term physical symptoms are quite noticeable. Extreme weight loss and loss of appetite are two of the main signs of meth abuse. In fact, during subsequent withdrawal of using meth, severe hunger and cravings for different types of food can set in, due to the previous lack of appetite. Dilated pupils and quickly rotting teeth (known as “meth mouth”) are also common side effects. Physical shaking of the body, as if extremely cold, is common, along with nervousness, anxiety and large bouts of paranoia. Meth abuse affects the skin quite a bit, which becomes pale with acne and red splotches in some areas, and sometimes dry and itchy, though most meth users have a perpetual non-activity-induced sweat. Meth users have lots of temporary energy and can usually be highly excitable and physically active around the clock, including sudden bouts of talkativeness.

Psychologically, meth abusers experience excited emotional states, primarily of their dominant or frequently used emotions. This means that some meth users are extremely happy and filled with joy, while others become very paranoid and afraid, and still others become violent and very physically aggressive. Again, the primary emotion which is increased tends to be the dominant emotional state of the individual. Stimulated factors can also include sexual libido, general irritability or feelings of power and invincibility.

When investigating treatment for abuse of this drug, understand that prolonged usage and high dosage has a powerful, long-term effect on the body, causing it to suffer with up to several months of severe depression, sleepiness and feelings of suicide. Although effective treatment for meth addiction is possible, it is a long-term commitment and a painful process.

For expert assistance on a quality workplace drug and alcohol testing solution, contact our team of industry professionals today at CMM Technology on (+618) 9204 2500.

1. “Methamphetamine Dependence and Treatment.” Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. www.turningpoint.org.au/library/cg_14.pdf.

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