Herbs and Drug Testing

employee drug testing, saliva drug test,oraline saliva“I take golden seal because I believe it helps my digestive track, but am concerned it will show up on my drug test.”

“I take herbs and we all know they are plants, so they must be safe as long as they are not poisonous.”

“I didn’t know that heroin comes from a plant!”

If there is any topic in the illicit drug industry that is confusing and full of misinformation, it is the question of which herbs and plants will show up during a urine or saliva drug test. With many employers conducting regular on-site drug testing, employees become concerned that they will fail a drug test if they are taking herbal supplements or eat certain foodstuffs.

Addressing this issue is complicated because most herbs will not show up on drug tests, but there is a persistent urban legend that some herbs can serve as masking agents. For example, goldenseal is believed to be an adulterant that can cause a false negative result. The truth is that is does not work as an adulterant though goldenseal tea can produce dark urine.

The Australian premier authority on drug use is the Australian Government Sports Anti-Doping Authority. It’s possible to enter the name of a substance on their website to see if it is permitted as medication after meeting certain conditions. Interestingly, this organisation only includes a few substances containing herbs and botanicals.

For example, when you input the term ‘herbs’, you get 4 listings for Harpagophytum procumbens. Click on ‘Harpagophytum procumbens dry extract’ and you get a message that says “ASADA can not advise the status of supplements in sport because they are not comprehensively regulated in Australia. Supplements can cause a positive test due to ingredients not being listed on the label, or impurities during manufacturing stage.”1

Harpagophytum procumbens is a member of the sesame family and is used to relieve fever and pain. Sesame seeds are one of the plants around which much confusion exists. Eating sesame seeds won’t cause a positive drug test. That is just one of the many myths about plants that concern people worried about getting a false positive during employee drug testing.

There are plants and plant based products though that can cause false positives if the drug testing laboratory is not using state-of-the-art equipment and procedures. For example, eating poppy seeds in food items has the potential of making a worker test positive. The way to avoid this from happening is to insure the immunoassay drug testing levels are not set too low. If the drug testing equipment meets Australian standards, then it will not be set too low and eating foodstuffs with poppy seeds will normally not be a problem.2

However, in laboratories the opium poppy seeds are used to make opiates including morphine. Heroin is synthesised from morphine, and heroin will most certainly be detected during testing.

Other plants play a role in illegal drug production also. The K2 is called ‘fake weed’ and is actually a mix of dried herbs combined with a variety of chemicals.  Cocaine and crack cocaine is a powdered drug made from the coca plant leaves. LSD is synthesised from lysergic acid obtained from a grain fungus that usually grows on rye. Of course there is cannabis (marijuana) which is a flowering plant. Finally there is the psychedelic mushroom called the Psilocybin mushroom.

Plants play a big role in the world of illicit drugs. Separating the illegal from the legal is not always perfectly obvious. That is precisely why it is so important to use a quality laboratory and/or purchase your employee drug testing equipment from an experienced company. For example, a quality test can differentiate between the metabolites from poppy seeds and the metabolites from heroin. Low quality testing equipment may produce false positives which creates a lot of mistrust in the workplace drug testing program.

CMM Technology at http://www.cmm.com.au/ has the proven quality that employers need as reassurance the workplace drug testing program produces accurate results. The professionals are ready to assist in any way possible.

References

1. Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. (2011, May). Harpagophytum procumbens dry extract (herbal). Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority: https://checksubstances.asada.gov.au/details.aspx?prodid=&subid=2629&resultid=5691279B-2BDD-4BBE-BA22-45C71909BEE3

2. The Privacy Committee of New South Wales. (1992, October). Drug Testing in the Workplace. Retrieved February 25, 2011, from NSW Government Lawlink Justice & Attorney General: www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/…/drug%20testing%20complete…/drug%20testing%20complete.doc

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Designer Shoes…Designer Fashion…But Designer Drugs?

pre screening,screening testsYou have heard of designer shoes, designer fashion and may be the band Designer Drugs, if you are an Australian clubber and music follower, but have you heard of designer drugs?  This is yet another term that employers should be aware of because these are powerful illicit drugs. They are called designer drugs because they are created for the purpose of circumventing the drug laws.

The designer drugs are a bit tricky because they will give the drug user the same kind of experience that other illegal drugs are meant to generate. The designer drugs, though, are synthetic drugs in which as little as one molecule may have been modified in the molecular structure thus creating a new drug form. Most of the laws specifically name drugs that are illegal so these new drugs are technically not illegal for a while.

Popular designer drugs that have shown up include ketamine, GHB and K2 to name a few.

  • Ketamine – Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic drug designed originally for veterinary use, but that became popular with drug users when it was discovered to have hallucinogenic properties causing similar effects as those achieved with PCP.  It causes dreamlike states by distorting sight and sound perceptions. It is usually injected intramuscularly or is snorted.
  • GHB – Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant that is actually a natural substance present in the brain in very small concentrations. High doses of this drug produce a sedative effect. It is usually taken orally as a liquid or powder but may be snorted also.
  • K2 – A substitute for marijuana, it is a mixture of herbs and chemicals that is smoked. It affects the central nervous system and mimics the affects achieved when smoking marijuana.

Just recently the University of New South Wales reported that the use of ecstasy is declining. That is good news except that the study conducted indicated the decline is due to the fact that there is a new range of Australian designer drugs.1 These include mephedrone which is that infamous one molecule different from an amphetamine. Referred to as miaow or bubbles, it is a synthetic stimulant.

It is amazing to note that one of the main reason ecstasy use is falling is that drug users are reporting that it is being sold with much less purity. In other words, the ecstasy is not delivering the desired effects, so more powerful and dangerous synthetic drugs are designed.2

Not Fit for Human Consumption

One of the interesting facts about these designer drugs is that new ones appear on the drug scene regularly, and they are often first sold on the internet. Labelled as plant food that is “not fit for human consumption”, these drugs are temporarily and technically legal. Eventually the law catches up and adds the designer drugs to its list of illicit substances.

When you choose to do random or blanket drug testing as an employer, your goal is not to catch those breaking the law, but rather to protect the safety of workers and the workplace. The designer drugs can negatively impact learning ability, attention, motor function, memory and some may cause hallucinations. That is not the kind of condition you want your employees to be in whilst they are working.

The concern is whether the saliva drug test or the urine drug test can detect these designer drugs.  It’s impossible to say yes or no to this question. The answer is that a quality state-of-the-art drug testing laboratory will develop drug testing equipment to detect these substances once it is discovered they exist.

Talk to the Testing Laboratory Professionals

There certainly may be a short period in which a brand new designer drug is sold and is not detectable, but it won’t remain undetectable for long. Saliva and/or urine drug tests can currently detect ketamine, K2 and mephedrone. GHB can be detected but is not considered a routine drug test (as of right now).  That can certainly change if it is determined its use has become extensive.

CMM Technology (http://www.cmm.com.au/) works hand-in-hand with employers to insure that current drug testing equipment is current and effective at detecting the popular drugs whether they are “designer” quality or not. You can contact the CMM Technology professionals and discuss any concerns you may have about the types of drugs employees may be using on or off the job.

References

1. Herald Sun. (2011, May 9). New Designer Drugs Overtake Ecstasy. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Herald Sun: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/new-designer-drugs-overtake-ecstasy/story-e6frf7jx-1226052203859

2. White, Cassie. (2011, May 9). Escstasy Impurity Leads to DesignerDrug Rise. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/05/09/3211744.htm

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Club Drugs on the Weekend and Still Present Monday Morning

alcohol testing australia,clinical medical marketingYou have probably read about the popularity of rave parties at which people take a mixture of drugs and then proceed to dance all night long and sometimes well into the next day. Many of these people are Australian workers who show up on Monday morning for work after a weekend of drug taking and alcohol consumption. The question is whether these employees are mentally and physically prepared to do their job safely and not put co-workers at risk.

The alarming rise in the use of dangerous substances at rave, club or dance parties presents a challenge to Australian employers who must balance the safety of the workplace with the privacy of the workers. Australian case law has made it clear that workers have a right to privacy and employers have no right to question how workers behave when not on duty. However, employers do have an obligation to keep the workplace safe.

Club drugs are some of the most powerful illicit drugs on the market. The party goers will take the drugs alone or in combinations called polydrug use. They are also called ‘date rape’ drugs when secretly given to another person in a drink for the purpose of sexual assault or robbery. Over 4,500 people each year in Australia are victims of spiked drinks though statistics to date indicate that alcohol plays a central role in these cases. In other words, the illicit substances are almost always accompanied by alcohol consumption.1

When reading the online forums you can get a glimpse into the types of drugs taken and the behaviours of those attending these parties. The goal is to take drugs in a way that enhances the musical and dance experience. For example, psychedelic drugs like MDMA are taken for their hallucinogenic effects, and GHB is taken for its ability to product a euphoric feeling and to enhance sexual performance.

As an employer, you have probably had to deal with the question of whether or not you should test employees for drugs on Monday morning if you believe they have been attending drug infested rave parties. It’s a fair question because the effects of club drugs may linger long after the weekend party is over and well into Monday or later.

For example, MDMA (ecstasy) may be detectable by a urine drug test for up to 4 days. MDMA also is known to produce mental confusion and anxiety in many users once the initial 6 hour ‘high’ wears off.  GHB is liquid ecstasy that is often used with alcohol. The drug’s effects last approximately 4 hours and they include feelings of euphoria. GHB in high doses can also produce drowsiness, nausea and loss of reflexes.

Common club drugs that can be detected with the Oraline saliva drug test or a urine drug test include the following:2

  • MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) – stimulant and hallucinogenic drug similar to an amphetamine that is detectable for up to 2 days in saliva and 4 days in urine
  • GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrat) – called ‘liquid ecstasy’ it is an intoxicating euphoriant that is also similar to a sedative and is detectable for only 12 hours in optional urine testing
  • Ketamine – an injectable anaesthetic that produces hallucinations and dreamlike states and is currently detectable through optional urine testing
  • Rohypnol – a powerful benzodiazepine usually taken orally that produces amnesia, visual disturbances and dizziness and is detectable for up to 48 hours in saliva and 3 days in urine
  • Methamphetamine – dangerous stimulant taken in various forms it can lead to memory loss, aggression and psychotic behaviour and is detectable for up to 48 hours in saliva and 4 days in urine
  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) – hallucinogenic that produces unpredictable results including psychotic episodes, sleeplessness and tremors and is detectable for up to and 2 days in urine

GHB and ketamine use are drug problems that are only now gaining national prominence due to the rave party reports. It is expected that eventually these drugs will be routinely tested also in a way similar to testing for meth and benzodiazepines.

You will take note that most of the drugs are detectable 2 days or longer after use. The employees who attended rave parties on Saturday night will still have the drug in their systems on Monday morning. The drug effects include shifts in realty perceptions, a sense of euphoria, distortion of sensory perceptions, ataxia or loss of motor skills, loss of ability to perceive time and general mental fog. Each one of these physical and mental symptoms of drug use can create a safety issue for the employer.

The key to maintaining safety in the workplace is to be alert to signs of drug use. A random drug testing program can include testing on Monday mornings as long as the workers are truly chosen in a random manner. On the other hand, workers who clearly exhibit behaviours that indicate safety on the job is being compromised should be tested for causation.

CMM Technology at http://www.cmm.com.au/ has offers standard and optional drug and alcohol testing equipment. Employers are encouraged to discuss with CMM’s the professionals any concerns they have as to the effectiveness of their current drug testing equipment.

References

1. Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2003, November). Beyond ‘drink spiking’: drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault (Briefing No. 2). Retrieved May 20, 2011, from Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault: http://www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/pubs/briefing/b2.html#intro

2. Drug Info Clearinghouse. (2003, August). Club Drugs Fact Sheet No. 2.6. Retrieved May 13, 2011, from Australian Government Drug Info Clearinghouse: druginfo.adf.ddsn.net/download.aspx?RelatedLinkID=659

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Young Workers and Binge Drinking

alcohol testing australia,clinical medical marketingWhen you say ‘workforce’, do you think of teenagers?  You probably do not if you equate a workforce with a group of people out of school and pursuing a career. If this describes your initial impression of Australian workers then it’s time to look at the statistics. It’s not only workers 20 years and older that need drug and alcohol testing because they belong to a workforce. Aussies are celebrated (notorious) for their capacity to drink, and unfortunately this pride in drinking extends to those under 17 years old. There is a sizable workforce comprised of people who are still teenagers, and they are alcohol and drug abusers.

Drinking and illicit drug use on the job is never acceptable, but when it involves youth it also involves emotions (think hormones). People who work and counsel teens track the behaviours of teens pre- and post party, and it seems there is a lot of anger that is substance induced. A survey of teens asked about a night of partying reported they are feeling “soooo pissed last night”  (excuse the language) the day after a party involving drinking.1 They didn’t brag about having fun b but rather talked about their anger. Though the comments on the websites about teen drinking made by those worried about this issue are regarded as subjective at times, the official government statistics support them in every regard.

For example, the Australian National Council of Drugs reports that as of February 2008 the statistics indicate that 16 percent of young drinkers go to work or school whilst under the influence of alcohol and 13 percent of these teens also drink-drive. The report also found that those who drank at a young age increased their alcohol use with age. By the age of 17, excess drinking was reported by 22 percent of males and 17 percent of females. Males consumed 7 drinks at a time whilst females drank 5 alcoholic drinks.  Here are some more disturbing statistics: 2

  • 1 out of every 10 15-year olds binge drink
  • 1 out of every 5 16-year olds binge drink
  • 1 out of every 5 17-year olds binge drink

The question of testing children in the workplace is a little more complex than testing of adults. Adults are more emotionally and intellectually equipped to make the decision as to whether they are willing to undergo drug testing. Protecting the privacy and safety of children is crucial, and that would seem to be a complication (though it’s not).

Fortunately there are non- invasive alcohol and drug testing methods like the Lion SD 400 or SD 500 and Oraline Saliva. A person only has to blow into the Lion SD 400 for alcohol testing and/or submit saliva directly into the Oraline Saliva device. An employer does not have to touch the teenager (or adults) and can get highly accurate results. Both tests can be administered on-site and give results instantly.

Binge drinking is not confined to youth, of course, and we tend to think of workplace alcohol and drug testing as being mostly applicable to adults unless talking about student athletes who regularly undergo urine testing. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare conducted a study and reported that 9 percent of workers binge drink weekly. Also, 7 percent of the workforce reported to their jobs whilst still under the influence of alcohol. The report also linked alcohol use and adverse workplace events including attending work whilst still under the influence of alcohol and absenteeism.3

Since alcohol is a legal substance, it can be tempting to think of it as somewhat harmless when compared to drugs like heroin and ecstasy.  Yet alcohol kills far more Australians annually than illicit drugs.  Each year there is an estimated 3,200 Australians who die from alcohol consumption and 81,000 people are hospitalised, and all of these people cost the community $15.3 billion.4 In 2001 there were 1,038 deaths due to drug overdoses.5

No matter the average age of your workforce, alcohol and drug testing policies and procedures should be implemented to protect workplace safety. CMM Technology (http://cmm.com.au/index.php ) provides expert consulting services to employers who need to identify the appropriate alcohol and drug testing equipment for all ages of workers.

References

1. Sally Frye, S. D. (2008, February). Supporting the Families of Young People With Problematic Drug Use. Retrieved June 2011, from Australian National Council on Drugs: http://www.ancd.org.au/publications-and-reports/research-papers.html

2. Ibid.

3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2006, June 28). Binge Drinking Affects Workers and Workplace Safety. Retrieved June 19, 2011, from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: http://www.aihw.gov.au/media-release-detail/?id=6442464636

4. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. (2009, April 24). National Alcohol Strategy 2006-2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011, from Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/nas-06-09

5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2003, July 15). Drug Induced Deaths, Australia, 1991- 2001. Retrieved June 19, 2011, from Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/productsbytopic/E32F06E91C80389DCA256D640001E0FF?OpenDocument

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Constructing an Alcohol Policy for the Construction Industry

The construction industry has a major influence on Australian lives in many ways, and people rely on the workers meeting quality standards.  Unfortunately the construction industry is also infamous for having some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug related accidents. The industry, whilst not able to claim the top position amongst Australian employers, is in the top five.1

A 2010 study on alcohol use reported the following about the construction industry:

  • 9.4 percent of construction workers drink at risky and high risk levels at least once a week
  • 10.6 percent drink alcohol whilst on the job
  • 6 percent have worked whilst under the influence

drug free workplace, workplace drug testThe demographics that are most associated with workplace alcohol consumption include younger aged workers who are male and single. The commercial construction industry has a large component of workers who fit these demographics, and it is not surprising to researchers to find that alcohol use at work is prevalent.

In investigating causation, it seems the construction industry worksites and interpersonal practices offer up the ideal conditions for excessive drinking. Drinking is often more like a ritual with workers meeting frequently after work at drinking establishment. In Australia, work related drinking norms include drinking with workmates after work. Since construction workers must function as a team, all too often they see the drinking as a chance to bond, share stories and experiences, and relieve stress.2

It is also workplace conditions that contribute to alcoholism amongst construction workers. These conditions include hot and dusty worksites, boring or monotonous work, dangerous or stressful work, and lack of control over work.3 Construction sites are certainly hot, dusty and dangerous. Many workers have tedious boring job assignments and most have no input into their job.

Unfortunately many construction companies have a drug and alcohol policy that prohibits drinking on the job or showing up for work whilst under the influence, but there is no actual testing program in place. The workers are not tested in a blanket or random testing program. One reason for this is due to the fact that workers often go straight from home to the worksite and may not visit the employer’s home office location for weeks at a time.

In a case involving Gladstone Power Station, trade unions tried to object to the company using a blood alcohol content (BAC) cut off limit of .02 percent instead of the typical .05 percent. The union also objected to including a random drug and alcohol testing component because it was too comprehensive. The matter was heard by the American Industrial Relations Commission. The Commission determined that the BAC of .02 percent was reasonable given the high risk hazards and complex task demands. The Commission also supported the random drug testing at remote sites.4

This same logic applies to the construction industry. Testing employees at remote locations or on-the-job is possible because of the portable drug and alcohol testing kits available today like the Lion Alcoblow.  Employers can take the testing program to the job site as opposed to requiring workers to come to the employer’s home office site. Past Commission decisions even support testing construction workers to stricter standards due to the hazardous nature of the work. Employers must also acknowledge and address the workplace factors that promote alcohol and drug use. These factors include organisational, structural, physical and social meaning the workplace is a distinct cultural environment with shared norms, values and practices.5 Adapting the drug and alcohol policy and procedures to the distinct environment is crucial.

Mediscreen (http://mediscreen.net.au/index.php?mod=home) professionals have the expertise needed to help construction industry employers address complex drug and alcohol testing issues.  Employers will find there is quality equipment available for field alcohol and drug testing.

References

1 Pidd, Kean and Ann Roche (2010, December 3). Workplace Health Promotion: Healthy Choices or Cultural Forces? Retrieved June 4, 2011, from National Centre for Education & Training on Addiction: http://bit.ly/n54NfI

2 Construction & Other Industries Drug & Alcohhol Program. (2011). Retrieved June 3, 2011, from South Australian Building Industry Redundancy Scheme Trust: http://www.birst.com.au/drug-alcohol-program.htm#Documents

3 Op. Cit., Pidd and Roche

4 Rauf, B. & Elgar, B. (2010). Fitness for Duty in the Mining Industry – A Legal Perspective. Retrieved March 19, 2011, from Queensland Resources Council: http://www.qrc.org.au/conference/_dbase_upl/humphreys_Fitness%20for%20Duty.pdf

5 Op. Cit., Pidd and Roche

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Understanding Legal but Dangerous Oxycodone

drug testing in western australia,chain of custody,pre screeningUnfortunately, as unique as Australia is culturally the country often follows global drug use patterns. One of the more recent trends has been the increasing use of oxycodone. Oxycodone is a prescription drug that is also sold on the black market making it a licit and illicit substance.  Several studies have indicated that the number of deaths attributed to this drug is rising, and that’s one trend Australia should not be following.

Employers are faced with keeping abreast of new drugs that compromise workplace safety when used by employees. Though oxycodone represents a fairly new drug in terms of its illegal use by Australians, it has actually been around quite a long time. First introduced in Germany in 1916, oxycodone is an opioid analgesic prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. Structurally similar to codeine, it is synthesised from thebaine which is an alkaloid found in the opium poppy.

Unlike aspirin that relieves pain at the pain site, oxycodone affects the brain and central nervous system. The drug binds to the nerve ending receptors that most affect awareness of pain and pleasure. By blocking the work of the neurotransmitters, the drug is able to reduce feelings of pain and increase feelings of well being. The euphoric feelings produced are precisely why drug addicts like oxycodone.

This is a drug that the user can build up a tolerance for leading to a need for an increased dosage to get the same effects. The effects of oxycodone are similar to the feelings a person gets when using heroin if a large enough dose is taken at once. The drug floods the body and produces a feeling of euphoria followed by a period in which the person goes into a dreamlike state. Eventually the drug wears off, but that only makes the person want another dose because reality compared to the dreamlike state creates feelings of unease, dissatisfaction and depression in an emotional state called dysphoria.

Oxycodone is a very dangerous drug, especially when a tablet is crushed before ingestion. Taking too much of the drug can cause breathing to stop even on the first dose because the section of the brain oxycodone affects is the same section that controls breathing.

Employers need to be aware of this drug because it will be detected by a drug test like the saliva drug test designed to detect opiates. The difficulty employers face is that oxycodone is a controlled substance in Australia and legal with a prescription. Unfortunately, it is also a drug that is sold illegally on the streets of Australian meaning that it is necessary to differentiate between legal and illegal users. The drug and alcohol testing policy and procedures should include a section on obtaining prescription drug information from employees and personal information confidentiality.  Whether or not the drug is obtained legally or illegally the employer needs to know if use will present a safety hazard because of the dreamlike state it produces.

Oxycontin, Percodan and Percocet are brand name drugs containing oxycodone. Called ‘hillbilly heroin’ in the United States, the Australian drug dealers are now hawking Oxycontin to the addicted.1 In fact, Oxycontin is a preferred drug to heroin for two reasons, 1) it is cheaper than heroin, and 2) the euphoric feelings produced last up to 48 hours whereas heroin lasts 4 hours. In an ironic twist, one of the reasons Oxycontin is inexpensive is because it is a legal drug that is subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.2

The Australian black market for oxycodone is growing. Between 1991 and 2006, it is estimated that drug use has grown by 15 fold. One reason for the increased usage by Australians is that a heroin shortage exists. Drug users often inject the drug just like they did heroin though it can be taken in tablet form or snorted also. It is a pervasive drug found in all Australian territories and states. Getting the drug is not difficult for those who know how to ‘doctor shop’ or ‘fossil farm.’ Doctor shopping refers to people who go from doctor to doctor asking for painkiller prescription drugs.  Fossil farming refers to buying prescription Oxycontin from older pensioners who obtained the painkiller legally but sell it illegally to raise funds.3

In a sobering interview, a former oxycodone user explained how he injected the drug and pieces of the crushed tablet blocked capillaries and larger veins in his hand and arm preventing blood flow. The addict is a qualified boilermaker welder no longer able to work because the arm had to be amputated.4 Clearly the use of oxycodone directly impacts Australian employers and workforce productivity.

CMM Technology at http://cmm.com.au/index.php works closely with employers interested in developing effective drug and alcohol testing programs.  Quality programs and testing equipment will detect opiates like oxycodone that are commonly ingested by employees.

References

1. Edwards, M. (2008, June 23). ‘Hillbilly Heroin’ Makes Its Mark on Australian Streets. Retrieved June 7, 2011, from ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/23/2282439.htm

2. Ibid

3. Cannane, S. (2009, August 19). Concern Aired Over Oxycodone Black Market. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from Lateline.: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2008/s2661133.htm

4. Ibid

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When is the Right Time to Use a Personal Breathalyser?

alert J5 personal breathalyser, breathalyserAlcohol is often treated like a poor cousin to illicit drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine. Attitudes tend to be more forgiving or tolerant towards alcohol abuse than for illegal drug use. That’s probably because alcohol is legal to consume except in certain circumstances, such as while driving a vehicle, or while on the job.

What many people don’t realise is that alcohol is a drug, and it is the most widely used drug in Australia.1 People unfortunately do drive vehicles or report to work while alcohol impaired, and in many cases the two are not mutually exclusive. Employees arrive for work impaired or use alcohol on the job, and then drive business vehicles and heavy equipment while working. These people pose a threat to the safety of other drivers on the roads and highways and to co-workers.

The Australian laws concerning alcohol consumption and driving are strict. A blood alcohol level (BAC) that his .5 g/100ml or higher is considered to be illegal. Years ago the police were given permission to perform “random breath testing” (RBT) of drivers using portable breathalysers.2 That means an employee driving to and from work or operating a company vehicle on public roads is subject to RBT which can lead to severe penalties including expensive fines and/or imprisonment.

Employees under the influence of alcohol pose additional threats to occupational health and the safety of co-workers. The annual cost to businesses is estimated to be $1.9 billion due to lost productivity, work related injuries and deaths.3 The greatest danger lies in work and environments that are safety critical, and it is that principle which guides employer drug and alcohol testing programs. In other words, an employer has a duty of care to keep employees safe, therefore testing is necessary to insure workers adhere to the rules. Employers now use breathalysers in blanket and random testing routines.

Employees can face many consequences when  it is determined they have violated employer policies and procedures concerning drug and alcohol use. Consequences can include loss of job or lost pay while attending a treatment program. Status with the employer in terms of promotions or willingness to give an employee a particular job may be compromised. The costs of alcohol abuse are absorbed by both employers and employees.

Though alcohol breathalysers have been in use for decades by the police, products like the Alert J5 Personal Breathalyser and Alcosense Precision Breathalyser are relatively new in terms of portability and being state-of-the-art. They have made it possible for employers to randomly test staff with a high degree of accuracy no matter where they are located.  This has made it possible for employers to test staff BAC levels without disrupting work because the employer takes the testing to the employee. They also make alcohol testing in remote areas like mine locations and transportation centres possible.

Portable breathalysers have also made testing affordable for use by non-employers concerned about their BAC level. Portable breathalysers used to cost thousands of dollars and were not able to test with a high degree of accuracy and so were not purchased for home use. That is not true anymore.

Because of the potential enormous costs and losses involved in testing positive for alcohol in the workplace or while driving, the personal breathalyser is now being used by far more people than just the police and employers. They are also being used by employees before work when job safety is a concern. The employee can test the BAC, and if the level exceeds the legal limit, he/her would not report to work. Though the employer still experiences lost productivity, the work and workplace as a whole are kept safer.

Employees are taught employer drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures on a regular basis, but clearly they need to also be taught how to test before getting into a vehicle or going to work. CMM Technology at http://www.cmm.com.au offers a selection of personal breathalysers that can improve workplace safety through expanded employee training.

References

1. Australian Drug Foundation. (2011). Workplace Alcohol Policies. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from OHS Reps @ Work: http://www.ohsrep.org.au/news-views/features/workplace-alcohol-policies/index.cfm

2. NSW Government Transport Roads & Traffic Authority. (2011). Driving. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from NSW Government Transport Roads & Traffic Authority: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/rulesregulations/internationalinterstate/driving.html

3. Drug Info Clearinghouse. (2011). Alcohol and Work. Retrieved February 25, 2011, from Drug Info Clearinghouse: http://www.alcoholandwork.adf.org.au/

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Dying on the Job…The Toll of Drugs and Alcohol on Workers

alcohol test, alcohol testing, alcohol testing australiaAustralian workers are dying on the job as a result of substance abuse. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of the toll alcohol and drugs are having on employees. According to more than one study, approximately 25 percent of workplace accidents and 10 percent of workplace fatalities are attributed to employees under the influence of one or more substances.1

Another way to consider the impact of alcohol and illicit drug use is in terms of the dollar impact on the workforce. Total reduction in labour productive capacity equated to $4,099 million for the fiscal year 2004-2005. Alcohol accounted for 26.8 percent of lost productivity due whilst illicit drugs accounted for 12.5 percent. Yet the toll is much worse than just lost productivity because alcohol and tobacco cause premature deaths.2

Premature employee deaths are accounted for in a number of ways and not all deaths occur whilst the employees are working. The actual time and location of the worker death is not as important as the fact the worker dies earlier than he/she would have if not for abusing illicit drugs or alcohol or both.

  • Road deaths
  • Industrial accidents eventually leading to premature death
  • On-the-job deaths
  • Drug or alcohol related organ damage leading to early death
  • Accidental poisoning by drugs or alcohol
  • Suicides

Some organisations report even higher statistics suggesting that as many as 30 percent of all workplace fatalities are due to alcohol or drugs.3 The important fact to keep in mind is that any death due to illicit drug use or alcohol abuse is one death too many. Though the emphasis by the Australian federal government and the states is on drug and alcohol testing for safety purposes, employers are concerned about the health and safety of workers for humane reasons also. That is one reason why companies invest in Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) which are not mandated by law. These plans are designed to give employees a chance to end substance abuse practices through professional counselling and behaviour modification but also reflect a desire by employers to see the workers become fit to resume working.

If employers did not have honest intentions when implementing a drug and alcohol policy, they would simply fire the employees who fail to pass blanket and random tests. Most organisations want to give employees a second chance to resume productivity.  The fact is that employees have the ultimate responsibility to stay free of drugs and alcohol whilst working.

Implementing an alcohol testing program is an important component of a solid workplace safety program. What some employers don’t understand when developing and managing policies and procedures is that the program must encourage people to report so that workers abusing drugs or alcohol can get help. Testing procedures using the Oraline saliva test or the urine drug test should not become a method of employee punishment.

Studies have reported various percentages as far as the number of drug users who are employed. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre did a study of long term illicit drug users and the results supported previous study results by a variety of government and private agencies showing a significant percentage are employed. In fact, a study of cocaine deaths in 2001 reported that among the study subjects:4

  • The average age of cocaine death victims was 34 years old
  • 50 percent of the victims were employed
  • 26 percent worked in professional occupations
  • Most of the cocaine users were not receiving any help
  • 3 out of 4 were married or in a serious relationship
  • 3 out of 4 were Australians

You cannot stereotype drug and alcohol abusers. The abuser may be the industrial worker, the truck driver or the professional department head. The abuser may be young, middle-aged or older. The drug and alcohol user is probably married, has a nice family, was born in Australia and has been a loyal worker.

The employer can learn from these studies that the substance abuser may be the engineer sitting at the desk across the aisle or the production supervisor working across town at the plant. Alcohol and illicit drugs don’t discriminate and therefore, abusers cannot be stereotyped.

CMM Technology at http://www.cmm.com.au/ has many year of experience working with employers from multiple industries as they develop and refine their drug and alcohol policies and procedures. The experts can provide professional assistance so that employers develop a fair and thorough testing program.

References

1. Andrew Ermer(Manager – National Construction Services, A. I. (2011). Alcohol and Other Drugs – Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner. Retrieved May 26, 2011, from Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner: http://bit.ly/o4YtgM

2. Collins, D. J., Lapsley, H. M., & Ales, U. o. (2008). The Avoidable Costs of Alcohol Abuse in Australia and the Potential Benefits of Effective Policies to Reduce the Social Costs of Alcohol. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: http://bit.ly/qsR8rB

3. United Voice. (2011). Drugs and Alcohol. Retrieved May 26, 2011, from United Voice: http://unitedvoice.org.au/rights-and-awards/ohs/#drugsandalcohol

4. Drug Adviosry Council of Australia. (2010). Cocaine Deaths. Retrieved May 27, 2011, from Drug Advisory Council of Australia: http://www.daca.org.au/illicit/cocaine/articles/html/Cocaine_deaths.html

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Why Employee Relationship Management Can Reduce Substance Abuse

Let’s face it: We all want more money. Our businesses want more revenue and our families want a higher income. This is not an unreasonable request. Every human being is capable of using his or her resources in an effective manner. The problem is rarely a lack of resources, but rather a mismanagement of resources. Your employees are an asset to your company, or you would never have hired them in the first place. Whenever they become an obvious liability, you immediately fire them. Whenever they bring in better company revenue, you promote them so that they receive a higher income and in order to foster a stabile environment for your business.

Your employees must be managed and related to in a reasonable manner. If you are too controlling or you are too lackadaisical, then your company will not ever see strong teamwork or a solid business plan. Both micro-managing and being a figurehead boss can significantly harm your company. You must be hands on, you must be firm, and you must give your staff room to grow and improve. If you have not taken courses on proper employee management and public relations, you might consider doing so now. This is not a responsibility which should be taken lightly.

In The Journal of Social Psychology, Tjosvold, Hui, and Law discuss cooperative goals set by businesses which resulted in stronger employee-manager relationships. [1] The attitude and facilitation of cooperation makes the business relationship a team effort, one of mutual contribution and interaction. This is opposed to the dated, ineffective business model of A-working-for-B. If an employer makes the crucial mistake of engendering an atmosphere of “You work for me, and that is the reason why you should do this,” then employees will always feel like the underdogs, rather than equal participants. Work will become a chore, rather than a blessing, and the entire company will suffer both revenue loss and client loss. If there is enough revenue loss, then employees may be laid off in an attempt to downsize. This will, in turn, engender an environment of fear. Fear reduces productivity and quality even further.

Foster creative, efficient and productive relationships with your employees. If you do not have the proper skills, take action to learn these skills. Drug and alcohol abuse is most prevalent in stressful and high-risk workplaces. Take responsibility for the health of your company and contact CMM Technology today to ask about our drug and alcohol testing equipment: +618-9204-2500.

1. “Empowerment in the Manager-Employee Relationship in Hong Kong: Interdependence and Controversy.” InformaWorld. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a920865110.

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What is Ketamine and How Does It Work?

Ketamine is a drug which binds to mu opioid receptors in the brain, and is used in both medical and veterinary practices. Ketamine is an NMDA (N-Methyl-D-Aspartate) receptor antagonist, which is used as a type of anesthetic on both humans and animals. It produces a dissociative state, euphoria and hallucinations.

What is an NMDA receptor antagonist?

An NMDA receptor is ionotropic and facilitates the transfer of electrical signaling between neurons in the spinal column and the brain. In other words, this receptor helps communication, including sensory communication, travel between your mind and the rest of your body. An NMDA receptor antagonist blocks this communication and therefore acts as a euphoric or anesthetic agent. [1]

What are the side effects of Ketamine abuse?

Ketamine reacts with the body similarly to PCP (phencyclidine) and DXM (dextromethorphan), except that it is very quick acting and does not last as long as PCP or DXM. In strong doses, Ketamine only affects the physiology for approximately two hours. Because of the heavy neurological activity, long-term abuse is correlated with partial or heavy memory loss. Short-term abuse is correlated with confusion, disorientation, spiritual experiences, numbness, dissociation, euphoria, and altered perception of reality. Physiological side effects include respiratory depression, increased heart rate, loss of coordination, hypertension and sedation. [2]

Where did Ketamine originate?

In 1962, PCP was causing seizures and neurotoxicity, so the pharmaceutical company, Parke-Davis, developed Ketamine in order to find a safer anesthesia. The recreational use of Ketamine increased toward the end of the twentieth-century, and was especially popular in raves. Ketamine-based pharmaceutical brands include Ketalar, Ketmex, Astrapin, Imalgen, Ketaset, and Ketotal. [3]

How Do I Know if Someone is Abusing Ketamine?

The neurological side effects of Ketamine are fairly obvious, dissociative mental states, loss of sensory perception and loss of motor coordination being the primary indicators of abuse. If an individual has overdosed on any drug, your first step must be to call your local medical services. While you are waiting for their arrival, you must monitor the individual carefully to determine breathing and heart rate. Keep them warm and perform any emergency medical procedures which you know, such as CPR, in order to stabilize them as best you can. [4]

CMM Technology provides quality drug and alcohol testing equipment to businesses which require these services. If your employees are exhibiting abnormal behavior or if you simply wish to install a program to keep your staff clean and productive, drug and alcohol testing is highly recommended. We are here to help you with your safety protocol. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500.

1. Pender J (1971). “Dissociative anesthesia”. JAMA 215 (7): 1126–30.

2. Giannini AJ, Loiselle RH, Giannini MC, Price WA (1985). “Phencyclidine and the dissociatives”. Psychiatric Medicine 3 (3): 197–217.

3. Bonanno FG (May 2002). “Ketamine in war/tropical surgery (a final tribute to the racemic mixture)”. Injury 33 (4): 323–7.

4. “Ketamine: An Introduction for the Pain and Palliative Medicine Physician A Case Based Review.” The Official Journal of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2011. http://www.painphysicianjournal.com/linkout_vw.php?issn=1533-3159&vol=10&page=493.

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What Does Toxicity Do at the Cellular Level?

Alcohol and illicit drugs have notorious effects upon our bodies. The neurotransmitters in our brains are stimulated, an effective high or low is achieved, and our abilities to reason, mobilize or react are all skewed. This is, of course, just the beginning of the story. What actually happens at the cellular level?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it brings on a “low.” It is comparable to other depressant drugs. Excitatory nerves, such as Glutamine, are suppressed, and inhibitory nerves are active. For example, the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, is prevalent in both alcohol and inhaled anesthetics. It is the suppression of the excitatory nerves which brings on sluggishness, which is typical drunk behavior. Alcohol affects the brain centers in a specific order, beginning with the cerebral cortex, then the limbic system, followed by the cerebellum. Next, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands are affected, followed by the medulla, or brain stem. [1]

Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, but it begins breaking down as soon as it reaches the stomach, through the enzyme dehydrogenase. Men produce more of this enzyme than women, which explains why men typically need more alcohol in order to become drunk, and women can become drunk very quickly on less alcohol. [2]

Inhibitory (or depressant) drugs act on the body similarly to alcohol. However, excitatory drugs, such as methamphetamine, release neurotransmitters which fire an action potential in the receptor of the brain cell. The process is as follows: The excitatory neurotransmitter ACh (acetylcholine) binds to the receptor, which opens sodium channels. This is similar to opening a dam in order to allow water through. The sodium (Na+) ions then reduce the membrane potential, which results in depolarization. An action potential is then created, which is the familiar excitatory effect of stimulant drugs. This is similar to a magnetic force field. You can feel the pull from some distance away, but at a certain distance from the magnet (the threshold of depolarization in the neuron), you are too close and are immediately sucked in to the magnet. [3]

CMM Technology produces and distributes high quality drug and alcohol testing equipment for businesses. We enjoy our work and partner with an onsite drug and alcohol testing company to combine resources and keep your company budget on track. Our products keep your workplace environment friendly, safe and creative. Feel free to contact us at any time to inquire about our testing equipment or to ask any other questions you have. Call us today: +618-9204-2500.

1. Freudenrich, Craig. “How Alcohol Works.” Discovery Health “Health Guides”. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 June 2011. http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/drugs-alcohol/alcohol6.htm.

2. “Alcohol – It’s effect on your body and health.” HealthCheck Systems. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 June 2011. http://www.healthchecksystems.com/alcohol.htm.

3. “Synapses.” RCN D.C. Metro. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 June 2011. http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/S/Synapses.html.

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Signs and Symptoms of LSD Abuse

LSD is a powerful hallucinogen which changes mood perception. Scientifically known as lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD has been around for over seventy years. The drug can be transported and traded easily, due to its colorless and odorless properties. It can be traded in liquid, tablet and form and the effects on the human body are entirely unpredictable, so it is highly recommended to abstain from this drug by any means necessary. LSD is known on the streets under the following names: acid, paper acid, window glass, dots, zen, sugar, blotter, lucy in the sky with diamonds (of course), pane, window pane, back breaker, battery acid, elvis and loony tunes. The drug must be kept away from chlorine, ultraviolet light and oxygen if it is to retain its potency.

LSD is widely considered to be non-addictive, mainly due to the lack of compulsive drug abusing behavior which accompanies it. Other stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine are known for their addictive properties, but LSD is less so. However, this is not to say that LSD does not produce a quick and high tolerance within the individual. For this reason, significantly larger doses are required each time the drug is abused to even attain the same effect as in previous times. This fact must be taken into consideration by individuals who may not be able to financially maintain a hallucinogenic lifestyle.

Once again, LSD abuse presents unpredictable behavior and side effects, so there are no symptoms which occur with every individual. Some people experience great fear, a sense of dying, chaos, great emotion or falling. Some people experience rippling or wavy visual effects when looking at objects or scenery. Bright, sometimes rainbow-like, colors are frequently reported. Skewing, shaping and patterning of flat and linear surfaces are also quite common. Individuals have reported a feeling of losing their identity, their ego and even the connection between themselves and the outside world.

Physically, LSD presents itself in dilated pupils, appetite loss or gain, numbness, weakness, tremors or “the shakes,” significantly raised or lowered body temperature, clenching of the jaw, sweating, and salivating. Most physical properties are related to the psychological effects of the drug, and vary depending upon the individual, the environment in which LSD was abused, and the temperament and personality of the individual. LSD abusers are frequently found to have permanently altered personalities and life outlooks after LSD abuse.

If you are concerned that a family member, coworker or employee may be abusing LSD, we recommend that you contact a quality drug and alcohol testing company. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500

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