Workplace Drug Testing Finds Marijuana and Cocaine Use

18 May 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

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Quest Diagnostics, a lab testing company, released an annual analysis of 10 million drug testing results nationwide. 4.2% of those tests came back positive for substance use, with Illinois following the national average. Across Illinois, different regions show different substance use interest. In Chicago’s South Suburbs, it’s cocaine. In Southern Illinois, it is Opiates. Please do note, however, that the rates of substance use is far lower than it was when Quest first started publicizing workforce testing in 1988, which sat at a whopping 14% positive rate. From 1988 to 2012, that rate has steadily declined. Since 2012 the rate of positives has been slowly climbing. People who tested positive for Marijuana, has also been rising steadily.

While historically, we are nowhere near where we were in 1988, this rise since 2012 in workforce positive drug tests is certainly alarming. We know that substance use impairs basic functions of the human body, and any amount of substance use, can greatly reduce the effectiveness of any workforce. Take for example a more basic substance, like cigarettes, in a work environment that might not be as physically demanding, like the office. While seemingly harmless, many employers see lost wages from the constant need of smokers to go out to quench their addiction. And the same could be said for marijuana, cocaine, and opioid use with varying degrees, of course. Hopefully this number will slow down, but this is most definitely a report to keep your eyes on.

What do you think? Comment down below.

Link to story here.

President Proposes to Gut Drug Control Office

12 May, 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

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Last Friday, it was leaked by the press that in the President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, the President proposed a 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy by about 95%. This effectively guts the office and the programs run by the office such as the Drug-Free Communites (DFC) Grant and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency (HIDTA). Please note that CASAP is funded by the DFC grant.

Since that time, the press, Senators, and community based organizations have all called out the President and his staff decrying them of the leaked budget proposal. Senator Rob Portman and Congressman Sander Levin have written a letter to OMB Director Mike Mulvaney in Support of the DFC Program. Several community organizations across the country have signed onto a letter to Senior Adviser to the President, Reed Cordish, and several Senators have written a letter to Mike Mulvaney in support of ONDCP, DFC and HIDTA, including our own Senator Durbin.

While I may express some bias about this issue, but I wanted to say how valuable this program is, and hopefully lend a voice to the cacophony of pushback that this proposal is seeing. The DFC program has been around for about 20 years now, and has seen nothing but success since the program started. I would argue that the success of the program is because local communities are providing and proposing local solutions to be funded. The fact that the president is proposing cuts to this and HIDTA which is a partnership with the FBI, CPD, DEA, ICE as well as other organizations to fight against drug trafficking, is deeply disturbing.

It is important to note; however, that this is the solely the President’s proposal that was leaked. His actual budget proposal will be released on 23 May and any of his budget proposals, will have to go through the meat-grinder that is Congress for approval. What do you think of the proposal? Comment down below.

ACTION  ITEM: Please take 2 minutes out of your day to call up our Senator Durbin’s office to thank him for his support of ONDCP, DFC, and HIDTA. (312) 353-4952 for his Chicago office and (202) 224-2152 for his Washington DC office. (Note: if you are a 501(C)3, this would not be considered lobbying, so you are free to call away!)

Link to story here.

Update on Two Stories

5 May 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

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Hello readers,

I wanted to give you an update to two stories that I have posted in the past 3 weeks, so here we go!

2 UIC Professors Exploring Binge Drinking and Heart Health

Last week I talked about how a German study showed a connection between alcohol consumption and heart arrhythmia. This week, we learned that 2 professors at University of Illinois in Chicago are exploring the link with excessive binge drinking and heart disease. With a $420,000 federal grant, they will be looking at blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and other signs of vascular aging. In a press release the researchers said that they were interested in learning about this issue, especially in a College setting.

Tom Marino Will NOT be Name Head of ONDCP 

US News and World Report is reporting that Tom Marino has withdrawn his name from consideration to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. I had previously reported that his name was being considered for the post two weeks ago. Citing family illness, Marino publicly announced his withdrawal from the position Wednesday evening, 3 May.

“Due to a critical illness in my family, I have, with regret and the utmost respect, informed the White House that I must withdraw my name from consideration for Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. I thank the President for the enormous honor of considering me for this lead role in the effort to address one of the most pressing issues facing our nation and my state today: the opioid epidemic. I will remain in Congress and continue to support President Trump in whatever way I can.”

No news yet on the Trump administration’s response to this.

What do you think of the following two updates? Comment down below.

Link to all stories/sources can be found in the article.

Study: Alcohol May Lead to Heart Arrhythmia

28 April 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

A study out of Germany is linking alcohol consumption with abnormal heart rhythms. Dr. Moritz Sinner, assistant professor of medicine at University Hospital Munich, and some of his colleagues decided to test this link between heart rhythm and drinking at a very unscientific place: Oktoberfest. And so they went to Oktoberfest armed with a breathalyzer and electrocardiogram.

Over 16 days, the scientist collected data on BAC levels and heart rates of 3,028 participants. The reception to the study was positive, which surprised the researchers, and they excluded people who were severely intoxicated, as they cannot truly give consent. they average age was 35 and the average BAC was 0.09%. Researchers were also able to find “a profound association of acute alcohol consumption with sinus tachycardia, or increased heart rate with no justification,” said Dr. Sinner. The likelihood of a person would experiencing this was linked to how much a person drank.

The study itself is not very surprising. we’ve known for a while that there is an association between drinking and issues with the heart, but the study does provide data that this is truly the case. Although, one limitation to the study was that, the study was not able to look at the long-term effects that drinking has on the heart; however, the researchers wanted to emphasize that drinking in moderation should not lead to many long term health consequences, but drinking excessively will. If you are an adult aged 21 or over, it is strongly suggested that you keep these words in mind.

What do you think of the study? Comment down below.

Link to the news article here.

For a story on how heavy drinking can lead to aged arteries, click here.

NYC Mayor to Raise Cigarette Prices

21 April, 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

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New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio plans to place a base price on cigarette packs from $10.50 to $13. This would make NYC the most expensive place in the country to buy a pack. For comparison, in Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Carolina the average price of a pack is lower than $5 a pack. The national average for a pack of cigarettes is $6.16.

The City is also planning on limiting the number of tobacco retailers they have, where they currently have some 9,000 retailers across the City. “There are 29 times more tobacco sellers than Starbucks in New York City.” Mayor de Blasio tweeted. His initiative would also ban any and all pharmacies from selling tobacco.

While not in New York, CASAP applauds the City of New York’s efforts to stamp out Big Tobacco. Any effort by any city to curb the use and access to tobacco is a plus in our book. We know that tobacco use is harmful and that a delayed first use of tobacco greatly reduces the chances of someone getting addicted for life, so why not limit where someone can get tobacco and raise how much it costs. Time and time again, raising the price has been a great motivator for people to quit. Let’s all stand together and applaud New York for putting the health and well-being of others over profits.

What do you think about New York raising their cigarette prices? Comment down below!

Link to Story 1 and Story 2.

 

RUMOR: Tom Marino (R-PA) Slated to Lead ONDCP

14 April, 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

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Multiple news agencies are reporting that Pennsylvania Congressman, Tom Marino, has been tapped by President Trump to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Office of National Drug Control Policy or ONDCP is a cabinet level office that leads the charge in developing policies around substance use and drug control.

Before his stint in Congress, Marino was a lawyer and a former U.S. Attorney. According to his official biography, there seems to be no mention of experience in drug control or drug prevention. That being said, he did introduce a bill in Congress called the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015 which “provides the Department of Justice with additional tools to target extraterritorial drug trafficking activity, and for other purposes.” The Bill seems to target the import/export of drugs and other dangerous substances.

If this report is true, this can represent a noticeable shift in the mission and goals of ONDCP. The most recent Director of ONDCP, Michael Botticelli, had a Public Health background, working for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health from 1994-2012. He, himself, was also a former addict, and had a huge push for prevention and treatment policies during his time at ONDCP. Based on Marino’s one bill; however, we could see a push towards drug enforcement rather than prevention and treatment. Unfortunately, nothing has been confirmed yet, and ultimately only time will tell.

What do you think of the rumor? Comment down below.

Link to the story here.

CASAP News Round-up

7 April 2017| By: Kevin Trieu

Hello! Lots of news to cover today, so without further ado, here…we… go!

Report: 1 in 10 Deaths Worldwide are Caused by Smoking|According to a Global Burden of Disease Report, Smoking tobacco causes 1 in 10 deaths worldwide. The report was a study of 195 countries from 1990 to 2015. Despite the growing efforts and a better understanding about the harmful effects of smoking, we are still seeing a high prevalence of tobacco use. Tobacco Companies are constantly targeting developing countries and newer markets to advertise to. It is also important to note that 52.5% of the deaths reported occurred in just 4 countries: India, Russia, China and the US. Nothing surprising in this report. I just hope that this report and a few other would raise the global awareness about this issue even more, and finally stamp this out.

Study: 1 in 4 Youth exposed to second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes|CDC is reporting that in the past 30 days, 1 in 4 middle and high school students have been exposed to second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes. The number means that about 6.5 million teens were exposed, 4.4 millions of which, were not users at all. In the past, the US surgeon general has raised the concern over e-cigarettes harm to youth such as the exposure of nicotine or heavy metals. E-cigarettes are increasingly popular among youth and the study hopefully increases a growing body of concern over making sure our youth, are protected from these harmful substances.

FDA Nominee Mum of Flavored E-cigarette Ban|Speaking of e-cigarettesFDA nominee Scott Gottlieb, did not take a stance on flavored tobacco products, in a Senate Hearing. “I recognize there is a line here somewhere, and I don’t know where that line gets drawn,” Gottlieb said. He also mentioned that there are times where a ban may seem inappropriate and appropriate for others, but was unable to have a clear cut statement on the issue. In my personal opinion is that within his statement, therein lies the very nuanced issue of substance use. I believe that what Gottlieb is getting at is that of someone who is looking at 2 different groups: teenagers and adults (21 and over). If I, as someone who is over the age of 21, decided to have a flavored e-cigarette today for the first time, there is a very, very low chance that I will forever be addicted to e-cigarettes. However, if I were 16, and I decided to use a flavored e-cigarette for the first time, there is a greater likelihood of me becoming addicted, because of how the brain works at that time, and where the brain is on the development spectrum, and we see this all the time in substance use. If someone decided to use any drug, for the first time at age 21, science suggest that their possibility of addiction, would be relatively low vs someone deciding to use when they are 16. It is important to note, however, that Scott Gottlieb has financial interest in Kure, a vape store franchiser, according to The Hill report, but has committed in divesting from that company if he gets approved by the Senate.

Sources:

1 in 10 Deaths Worldwide news articles here and here.

E-cigarette exposure news article found here.

Scott Gottlieb article can be found here.