Prescription abuse is a major problem in the U.S. According to ABC News, the United States accounts for 80 percent of the world’s opioid usage. Hydrocodone is particularly troublesome — prescribed doses are up from 121 million in 2006 to 131 million currently.
These numbers really hit home when taking their effects into account. Two separate reports, one by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the other by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). They found that 25 percent of 18-25 year olds will abuse painkillers in their lifetimes. The reports also point out the fivefold increase in admissions seeking help for prescription abuse in treatment centers.
Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., co-author of the studies, sums up the findings: “The scope of the problem is vast — opioid overdose is now the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States and the prevalence is second only to marijuana.”
Leaders have taken notice of the issue at the national level. President Obama’s administration has unveiled a plan to increase usage of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, increase education for healthcare professionals and their patients, improve drug disposal methods and increase enforcement efforts on “pill mills” and “doctor shopping.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is supporting the Obama plan by introducing a new Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). The plan calls for manufacturers of extended release and long-acting products such as hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, transdermal fentanyl and transdermal buprenorphine to supply educational materials to doctors and health care providers. The materials are meant to educate health care professionals as well as patients.
Drug manufacturers are also addressing the issue. Pfizer has two products on the table for review by the FDA. The first is called Acurox. This painkiller is resistant to the physical manipulations that many abusers perform on painkiller tablets. For instance, if the pill is broken apart it will “chunk” and resist being further broken down into a powder. If an abuser actually does manage to ingest some through his/her nose he/she will feel the effects of an irritant placed in the drug. And if combined with a liquid and drawn into a syringe, the drug becomes “sudsy.”
Pfizer’s other product is called Remoxy. This drug comes in a gelatin form, preventing it from being crushed or put into a syringe. It also will not release its full potency if mixed with alcohol.
In Ohio, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 93 to address prescription abuse issues in the state. The bill was introduced in February 2011 by State Representatives Terry Johnson and David Burke.
Working Partners can help you combat prescription abuse in the workplace. To learn more about our drug free workplace programs, contact us.
The Russian parliament recently reclassified beer as alcohol, not as food. Although vodka is still the most popular alcoholic drink in the country by far, beer consumption has grown enormously. Currently Russia ranks third (behind the U.S. and China) in beer consumption.
Many Russians consider beer a soft drink and consume it for lunch or on the way to work, therefore Russians could benefit from drug and alcohol training so they are aware of the risks and effects. With this perception and a love of vodka, Russians drink an average of 32 pints of alcohol a year, double the maximum recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Drug and alcohol training is important to educate employees, and Working Partners considers training an important part of a drug free workplace program.
When it comes to lessening the societal impact of drugs and helping individuals be drug free, which method is more effective: enforcement or prevention? Scores of studies have examined this subject. However, a recent project took a unique approach. San Diego County and the San Diego Association of Governments followed two individuals, both addicted to methamphetamine, for 10 years. The first, “Dan,” was left to follow a pattern of drug abuse and crime, resulting in a two-year prison sentence and costing taxpayers $190,000. The other subject was 27-year-old “Christina” who had been a meth addict for ten years. By the end of the study, however, she had been clean and employed since 2009. She believes the option of treatment kept her from continuing her life of substance abuse, theft and burglary.
San Diego County believes it is headed in the right direction. Not long ago the area was known as the “Meth Capital of the World,” but in the last five years arrests have been cut by 50 percent. Enrollment in treatment programs is also down 17 percent, and the area has seen a 39 percent decrease in lab seizures and clean ups.
Drug abuse continues to be a problem in the workplace, and it is important for businesses to be drug free. Working Partners can help you create a drug free workplace program that works for your business and your employees.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released an analysis of government data that shows most underage drinkers obtain alcohol from home. The review included data obtained from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2006 through 2009. Of the 709,000 teens who reported teen drinking during the period, almost 30 percent were given alcohol by a parent or guardian, with almost another 16 percent getting it from home. Only 13.5 percent obtained it from an unrelated adult and around 20 percent used another underage teen as their source.
On a related note, research on the outcomes of teens who drink with adult supervision illustrates that those who imbibe with the blessing of adults have more alcohol-related problems than their counterparts. The report, focused on teens in the United States and Australia, uncovered that by ninth grade over 70 percent of Aussie teens and 45 percent of U.S. teens had used alcohol. Of those polled, 36 percent of the Australian teens and 21 percent of the U.S. participants had experienced alcohol-related problems. This study goes a long way to dispel the myth that supervised teen drinking can shield teens from the consequences of alcohol abuse.
To help parents communicate more effectively with teens, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) introduced a handbook in conjunction with its “Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence” campaign (www.madd.org/underage-drinking/the-power-of-parents/).
Teen drinking and alcohol abuse in general can have a negative impact on the workplace. Businesses whose employees abuse alcohol and other drugs pay 300-400 percent more in medical claims and benefits usage. Working Partners can help your business keep employees from abusing drugs and alcohol and costing you money and resources.
Oklahoma’s SB 234 about boating and alcohol limits was signed and immediately became effective on May 10. It lowers the intoxication blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for boaters from.10% BAC to below.08% BAC which matches the limits for drivers.
Boating and alcohol consumption can be fatal. The U.S. Coast Guard says alcohol use is the most prevalent factor in fatal boating accidents; in 2007 it was the leading cause in 21% of boating deaths.
Alcohol consumption can also have harmful effects on the workplace. Businesses whose employees are abusing alcohol or other drugs lose millions of dollars annually through chronic absenteeism, lost productivity and theft. Working Partners can help your business create a plan to combat drug and alcohol use in the workplace.