Bath Salts are for Bathing, NOT Snorting!

Parents beware! A new and dangerous designer drug is making the rounds these days, known among teens and adult users as “bath salts.” Named for their similarity in appearance to actual spa bath products, the designer drugs are actually much more deadly than their name implies. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that over 22,000 visits to emergency rooms across the nation in 2011 were related to the use of bath salt drugs.

Bath salts contain one of two psychoactive chemicals:

– MDPV

– mephedrone

Both compounds are synthetic versions of a natural ingredient found in the East African khat plant. Since both chemicals are illegal in the U.S., manufacturers often make very slight changes to the compound- just enough that it id not “technically” illegal- and include packaging disclaimers, such as “not for human consumption” so that they can “legally” sell the product over the Internet, in head shops, and even in gas stations and convenience stores in some states.

Bath salts drugs can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, addiction, suicidal thoughts, psychosis and, in some cases, death – especially when combined with the use of other drugs. The SAMHSA report showed that 67% of bath salt-related ER visits also indicated the use of other substances, such as marijuana (15%) and other narcotics (52%). So far, most bath salts are being imported from China and Europe, but U.S. officials are on the lookout for local sources to start appearing as the drugs gain in popularity.

Uh-oh! World Cup Drug Testing in Jeopardy?!

The executive director of Brazil’s primary drug testing facility reported this week that Brazil will have difficulty meeting the drug-testing demands for the 2014 World Cup games scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro in June. The primary drug-testing lab in the country lost its accreditation last month and is not expected to be able to get accreditation reinstated in time for the most important soccer games in the world, scheduled to take place in their city next year. 

Brazil does have another drug-testing lab being built, which will be completed and accredited in time for the 2016 Olympics, but authorities had planned on relying on the existing lab until that time. Brazilian authorities are indicating that the problem is “the building,” stating that the new building will be complete in April or May, but that they won’t have time to move the equipment and personnel into place in time. The accrediting organization, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has reported that Brazil’s lab failed multiple blind tests, failing to identify tainted and adulterated samples. This hardly seems a likely result of problems with “the building.”

Brazil’s problems come at a time when leaders in the sport are calling for more extensive and frequent athlete testing. Although soccer has not had any significant doping scandals, as American football and baseball have had, they are pushing for “preventative” testing, to identify and head off any potential problems before they become public scandals. 

The solution to Brazil’s immediate problem- how to handle testing for the 2014 World Cup- appears to be the enlistment of labs outside of the country to help. Brazil is suggesting that accredited labs from other countries set up temporary branches in Brazil to oversee the testing for the World Cup. Under this proposal, Brazil’s equipment and facilities would still be used for testing, but the process would be overseen by WADA-accredited labs in other countries. It would seem, however, that using Brazilian equipment and facilities would present the same accreditation problems that started the difficulty. Outside labs would probably need to bring in their own collection facilities and equipment and send samples to labs in their own country for evaluation. 

Preventing Date Rape

Roughly 40% of all rapes in the United States are perpetrated by someone that the victim classifies as a friend or acquaintance. This is often called “date rape,” whether the victim is officially involved in a romantic relationship with the rapist or not. In a growing number of cases, rapists are using drugs to weaken or disable their intended victim. Date rape drugs often have sedative, hypnotic, dissociative, or amnesiac effects, and can be added to a food or drink without the victim’s knowledge.

There are several things you can do to be safe while dating and socializing: 

– never leave your food or drink unattended. If you must leave it unattended or outside of your line of vision, DO NOT consume any more of it upon your return to the table or bar. Purchase a fresh drink from the server.

– Only consume drinks delivered by a bartender or server directly. You can be reasonably sure that no one else has had access to the drinks to tamper with them. 

– Carry and use a Date Rape Testing Coaster, like the ones available from ASC. Each coaster has 2 test panels on one side and complete instructions for use on the other side. It allows users to test drinks for the 2 most common date-rape drugs: ketamine and GHB. 

Some people have expressed feeling awkward about testing their drinks in public, fearing that they will “offend” their friends or dates. But in our culture, one can never be too careful! It is becoming more and more common for friends to be intrigued by the idea and ask for an extra coaster so they can test their drinks, too! Help keep your friends and yourself safe, and have fun! 

De-Stress Scientifically!

In these stressful times, it seems that everyone has suggestions for the best ways to handle stress. Sometimes we may assume that the suggestions are “old wives tales” or “new age feel-good strategies.” But many of the most recommended strategies for handling stress actually have a basis in science! Our body chemistry changes with stress; hormones like cortisol flood our systems, heart rate and blood pressure rises, and our breathing becomes faster and shallower. Our bodies physical response is the same whether we face a grizzly bear or a disgruntled boss- the difference lies in the severity of the response.

Just like our bodies respond to stress in scientifically measurable ways, our techniques for handling stress can result in scientifically measurable relief. Here are some strategies to use which will relieve stress at the physical level: 

– Breathe deeply: increased oxygen to the brain and bloodstream clears the mind and increases energy to handle stressors more efficiently.

– Treat yourself- eat ONE candy: a small amount of sugar can help stem the production of stress hormones in the body. The key here is eating only a small amount. Too much sugar can raise blood sugar levels and create a sugar “crash” following the initial sugar high. 

– Step away from the screen: taking frequent breaks from the computer relieves eyestrain and headaches, thus decreasing stress. 

– Take a short walk: walking helps regulate breathing and increases oxygen levels throughout the body. Endorphin (feel-good chemicals in the body) levels are also boosted by physical activities.

– Eat a banana or a potato: potassium, which is found in abundance in bananas and potatoes, help regulate blood pressure and improve energy. 

These are just a few ways that you can scientifically de-stress. What other strategies do you use? How or why do they help? 

Preventing Job Burnout

Remember your excitement when you first landed the job that you loved so much? You were motivated to show up early, stay late, do whatever was necessary to meet deadlines and turn out the best products. Leap forward a few years. Suddenly you find yourself hitting the snooze button four times each morning, struggling to get to work on time, watching the clock for the final hour of every day, and striving to turn out any product- just to get it out of your outbox and through the client’s door. What happened? You are still the same person; the dream job is still the same job. 

Chances are good that you are experiencing job burnout, a condition that many people experience when job stress builds over time. Sometimes bosses’ expectations change slightly, or the workload grows a bit. Sometimes a change in another area of your life creates stress that results in sleep deprivation or feelings of overwhelm that can affect job performance and satisfaction. And when we are overwhelmed or stressed out at work, it is all too easy to try to find relief in the wrong places- like too much alcohol, medications, or other drugs. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to get back on track and find the passion that you once had for your job. Some suggestions include: 

– Recognize the contribution that you make to the company and its mission. 

– Take back control of those factors that you have a choice about, like focusing on tasks that emphasize your strengths and delegating those that don’t, choosing to remain positive each day, expressing creativity in problem-solving situations. 

– Engage in good self-care and stress relieving activities, such as regular exercise and meditation. 

– Keep regular hours and set aside time away from work and all thoughts of work to rejuvenate your spirit and get some rest. 

If these strategies fail, then it may be time for a job change or a new career. Be honest with yourself and your boss about your feelings and brainstorm with them some possible solutions. They may be aware of opportunities within the company that will further challenge you or be a better match for your strengths, a job that you can grow into for many years to come. 

Whatever strategies you use, always evaluate them for both effectiveness AND good health. While a stiff drink after work may provide a temporary fix for too much stress, it could prove to be very costly in the long run! 

 

For a daily dose of encouragement and meditations for stress relief, check out our book Past Tense: 365 Daily Tools for Putting Stress Behind You – For Good! 

 

Red Ribbon Week is Coming!

National Red Ribbon Week takes place on October 23-31 this year. Dedicated to substance abuse awareness and prevention, Red Ribbon Week Provides organizations, teachers, and counselors around the country with drug-free activities and events to help people of all ages to live a drug-free lifestyle. 

Although Red Ribbon Week is often thought to be “for kids,” many communities have expanded their efforts to include all ages by hosting parades, dances, pancake breakfasts, health fairs and a variety of other events to raise awareness about addiction and to provide information about resources available in the community. 

Red Ribbon Week is the perfect opportunity for your organization to get involved and provide valuable services in your community. And now it the perfect time to start planning and rallying your resources. 

American Screening Corporation can help you plan for a successful Red Ribbon Week. We have a variety of products which can be used to educate parents and teens alike, including:

drug and alcohol testing books

drug testing kits for home use

– drug-free workplace resources

Call American Screening Corporation today for information or assistance in securing the tools and products needed to help YOU plan for a successful 2013 Red Ribbon Week! 

 

Drugged Taxi Drivers? Not in Arizona!

The state of Arizona has just passed a new law requiring that every transportation company require drug tests annually for their drivers. This includes taxi drivers, limosine drivers, bus drivers, and delivery drivers. Most drivers support the new law and many of them report that the employers that have hired them on contract have often required drug testing upon hire already, so it is nothing new for them. Some transportation companies and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Arizona are opposed to the new law, stating that such laws in the past have been ineffective, invade employees’ privacy, and lack an appeals process in the case of false positive test results.

While these concerns are valid considerations, most voters felt that since the drivers were voluntarily seeking employment providing a service to the general public, that of transporting passengers to various places, that such accountability and safeguards for public safety were warranted. If a driver doesn’t want to be tested, he or she doesn’t have to be a driver responsible for other people’s lives. If a driver is on public streets, especially when transporting passengers, it is not asking too much that he or she verify their compliance to state and national DUI laws through random and frequent drug testing.

Truck drivers have been required to comply with laws requiring random drug testing for many years. It only makes sense that drivers who are transporting human lives meet the same requirements.