Archive for October, 2010

National Survey Reveals Increases in Substance Use from 2008 to 2009

October 25, 2010
Please correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t we going in the wrong direction . . .

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that marijuana use rises; prescription drug abuse and ecstasy use is also up.

The use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2009 according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows the overall rate of current illicit drug use in the United States rose from 8.0 percent of the population aged 12 and older in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009.  This rise in overall drug use was driven in large part by increases in marijuana use.

The annual NSDUH survey, released by SAMHSA at the kickoff of the 21st annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, also shows that the nonmedical use of prescription drugs rose from 2.5 percent of the population in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009. Additionally, the estimated number of past-month ecstasy users rose from 555,000 in 2008 to 760,000 in 2009, and the number of methamphetamine users rose from 314,000 to 502,000 during that period.

Flat or increasing trends of substance use were reported among youth (12 to 17-year-olds).  Although the rate of overall illicit drug use among young people in 2009 remained below 2002 levels, youth use was higher in 2009 compared to 2008 (10.0 percent of youth in 2009, versus 9.3 percent in 2008, versus 11.6 percent in 2002). The rate of marijuana use in this age group followed a similar pattern, declining from 8.2 percent of young people in 2002, to 6.7 percent in 2006, remaining level until 2008, and then increasing to 7.3 percent in 2009. Additionally, the level of youth perceiving great risk of harm associated with smoking marijuana once or twice a week dropped from 54.7 percent in 2007 to 49.3 percent in 2009, marking the first time since 2002 that less than half of young people perceived great harm in frequent marijuana use. The rate of current tobacco use or underage drinking among this group remained stable between 2008 and 2009.

Overall past-month illicit drug use among young adults aged 18-25 increased from 19.6 percent of young adults in 2008, to 21.2 percent in 2009.  This rise in use was also driven in large part by the use of marijuana.

“These results are a wake-up call to the nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Our strategies of the past appear to have stalled out with generation ‘next.’ Parents and caregivers, teachers, coaches, faith and community leaders, must find credible new ways to communicate with our youth about the dangers of substance abuse.”

“Today’s findings are disappointing, but not surprising, because eroding attitudes and perceptions of harm about drug use over the past two years have served as warning signs for exactly what we see today.” said Director of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske. ”

As in previous years, the 2009 NSDUH shows a vast disparity between the number of people needing specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem and the number who actually receive it. According to the survey, 23.5 million Americans aged 12 or older (9.3 percent of this population) need specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem, but only 2.6 million (or roughly 11.2 percent of them) receive it.

NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is the nation’s premier source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse behavioral health issues affecting the nation.

The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduhLatest.htm.

Workers sick of drinking sessions after office hours

October 21, 2010

I found the following article interesting in that it depicts that drinking to excess is part of the business culture throughout the entire world not just  in the US or Europe.   I also found it extremely interesting that the writer believed that the culture “can be changed overnight” even though the study clearly states that 12.5% of the men responding to the study stated that they would need “help” in order to quit drinking.     Read for yourself . . .

As Reported in the JoongAng Daily

By Jung Seung-hyun [seungjung@joongang.co.kr]

Three out of 10 Korean workers are dependent on alcohol, according to a recent survey by Incruit, an online job portal. The survey of 684 workers threw a spotlight on a problem that Koreans don’t normally like to discuss. But few believe the drinking culture can be changed overnight since it is deeply embedded in the corporate culture. It has been a fact of Korean life that after-work drinking sessions are meant to promote social bonds within companies. But it also has its downside.

In the survey, 27 percent of respondents said they are dependent on alcohol, including 32 percent of men and 22 percent of women. It reflected the fact that 46 percent of respondents said they go out to drink up to three nights a week, with 77 saying they become drunk 10 percent to 20 percent of the time. The survey revealed that 9 percent feel they need to get counseling or attend an addiction clinic, with 12.5 percent of men saying it is necessary for them to seek help versus 5.4 percent of women. Nearly 4 percent of respondents admitted to suffering from alcohol-related illnesses or having to take medication, with 7.1 percent of men and 0.6 percent of women saying this was the case.

“Older workers and bosses still think that drinking together until everyone becomes drunk is the solution to everything and that people get closer on such occasions,” said a banker, surnamed Kim. “However, the younger generation prefers more personal time after work and they see these events as a burden.” About 90 percent of those questioned said that the drinking culture needs to be changed because they fear they will not be given job promotions and will be considered antisocial if they do not participate.

“The biggest problem is that drinking does not stop at one location. Workers are forced to go to two or three places a night,” said a salaried employee surnamed  Bae.

Um, I wonder how they are getting from location to location?  I guess Korea needs Cleared2Drive too.


$62.7 Million Settlement in Fatal Truck Accident

October 20, 2010

Hopefully this will serve as a serious wake up call for every company with a fleet of vehicles.  Yes, education is important, but it is only as good as the people hearing it want it to be; yes, a video showing exactly happened is important so we can learn from it; but let’s be completely honest about what is MOST important here . . . Preventing this type of situation from ever happening and Cleared2Drive is the only technology available that can do that!

A $62.7-million settlement was reached in a civil court suit brought by the relatives of eight victims of a horrendous crash in Oklahoma caused by Donald Creed a 76 year old driver for Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG).   In all, 10 persons were killed and five more injured by the accident.

Creed, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor in Oklahoma, in a plea deal, was sentenced to a year of probation on each count. He must serve 30 days in a county jail and wear an electronic monitoring device in his first year of probation. He is also barred from obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

AWG is a retailer-owned grocery cooperative based in Kansas City, KS, that serves 1,900 members. AWG’s attorney Jim Secrest said the company was facing an additional claim of independent negligence for allowing Creed on the road. The company was prepared to fight that claim, he said, adding that AWG had “state-of-the-art” equipment in the truck and that witnesses who had seen Creed throughout his shift would have testified that Creed appeared “normal” that day.

“To this moment, we know what happened, but we don’t know why,” Secrest said. “This guy [Creed] had five-million miles without one personal injury accident.” Secrest said that AWG’s fatigue management program was not as strong as it could have been. The company has improved the program since the accident, he said.  “It was not as intense as it should have been and I think AWG acknowledged that,” Secrest said.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the cause of the crash was the result of Creed’s fatigue due to acute sleep loss, mild sleep apnea and circadian disruption associated with his shift schedule.

Creed had just returned from a vacation and was still adjusting to the shift, which began shortly after 3 a.m., NTSB said. The Board said that Creed never reacted to the backup of traffic due to an earlier accident along Interstate 44 near Miami, OK. Creed drove his truck, traveling at 69 mph in a 75-mph zone, into the back of a stopped sport utility vehicle. The truck continued forward and hit three additional vehicles, pushing the third vehicle into the rear of a livestock trailer being towed by a pickup truck. That vehicle then collided with yet another vehicle.

The accident occurred at 1:19 p.m., roughly 10 hours after Creed had started his shift. NTSB said that Creed failed to apply brakes or take any evasive measures before the collision.

“This crash points out the need for three important actions by federal regulators that would go a long way to reducing this type of accident on our roadways: a fatigue management system would have helped the driver get the rest he needed to perform well behind the wheel, event recorders would have provided our investigators with the details about the crash once it occurred, and a collision warning system would have significantly reduced the likelihood that this accident could have ever happened,” said NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The time to act on all three of these safety fundamentals is now so that this kind of horrific tragedy will not occur again.”

NTSB also has called upon FMCSA to require all heavy commercial vehicles to be equipped with video event recorders, to improve its fatigue educational materials and to require all motor carriers to adopt a fatigue management program based on the North American Fatigue Management Program.

Guilt-Based Anti-Alcohol Ads Can Backfire, Study Finds

October 18, 2010

Researchers are now saying that using shame or guilt to try to prevent over consumption of alcohol can actually cause people to drink more.  Go figure!  Shouldn’t we have realized that years ago?   How many of us understand that addicts are mentally trying to escape?  Do we really think that piling on the guilt is going to make an addict stop?

Researcher Adam Duhachek of the Indiana Kelley School of Business and colleagues said that ads that link alcohol abuse to negative consequences like blackouts and automobile crashes in order to elicit feelings of shame or guilt can trigger a defensive coping mechanism. This can lead viewers to believe that bad things related to drinking can only happen to others and can actually increase irresponsible drinking, researchers said.

“The public health and marketing communities expend considerable effort and capital on these campaigns but have long suspected they were less effective than hoped,” said Duhachek. “But the situation is worse than wasted money or effort. These ads ultimately may do more harm than good because they have the potential to spur more of the behavior they’re trying to prevent.”

A better approach might be to educate the public about the negatives associated with drinking but link that message to one of empowerment, said Duhachek. “If you’re going to communicate a frightening scenario, temper it with the idea that it’s avoidable,” he said.

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe educating people about the danger of impaired driving is extremely important, but education alone is never going to eradicate impaired driving.  Lets face it, we have been educating everyone about the dangers of impaired driving for more than 3 decades now (my 31 year old son was taught it in the Safety School program he attended prior to his first day of kindergarten),  yet we have not seen a decrease in impaired driving deaths in the past 15 years.  Until we get serious and accept that it is going to take some type of safety technology  installed in every vehicle, this problem is not going to go away.   Isn’t that the same reason that seat belts and air bags were made mandatory for every vehicle?

I also think these signs serve a better purpose than trying to lay a guilt trip on someone and that is to reminds us how fortune we are that we have never had to live that pain.  My heart and prayers go out to the family every time I see one of these.

Drunk School Bus Driver Sends 13 Children to the Hospital

October 15, 2010

After reading about police officers, paramedics, doctors and even coroners driving drunk, is anyone surprised that we also have school bus drivers being arrested for DUI with children on their bus?   Last week an Illinois District 150 bus driver was arrested for allegedly driving while under the influence when he crashed into two parked cars and sent 13 children to two Peoria hospitals.  Thankfully all were released later that day.

According to police, Stewart registered a 0.04 percent on a breath test, however the required by law blood draw results are not yet available.  Stewart admitted drinking three beers, some 12 hours before the crash, and taking some cold medicine later that night.  He said he was not impaired, noting he took students from Peoria to Pekin that morning before the accident.  I guess he thinks that just because he didn’t crash on his first route of the day, we should believe that he couldn’t have possibly been impaired, right?  Wrong!

Just because someone has gotten away with doing something before and nothing bad happened doesn’t mean they weren’t wrong.  It just means they didn’t get caught!  Unfortunately, he isn’t the only one who thinks that way.  Too many school districts and business feel that just because they haven’t had an incident where an employee has been caught driving under the influence while on the job, means it isn’t happening.  They too are wrong.  Statistically,  it just means they haven’t been caught,  yet.

Given that 10% of the American population is considered to be an addict, the odds are stacked against any school district or company.  Lets face it, if you have 10 or more drivers, chances are, you have at least one that is driving your company vehicle under the influence on a regular basis.

It used to be that there really wasn’t anything a company could do to protect themselves 24/7, but not anymore.  So, you can either bury your head in the sand and continue to play the odds, or you can do something to protect your company.  It will cost you either way, but one is MUCH more expensive than the other.

Just remember . . .

Impaired Worker + Company Vehicle = $$$$$$$$$

If knowledge and experience doesn’t stop drunk driving what will?

October 14, 2010

For months now, nearly every single day, I am reading another story about a  police officer being arrested for drunk or impaired driving and sometimes, like in the story below, while on duty!   I am sure you all heard about and saw the video of the Colorado State Trooper being arrested just a few months ago when citizens called 911 on him for driving erratically.  And, now we have . . .

Detective Joel Vodak, A Sauk County Sheriff’s Department detective, who has been with the department for 15 years, was arrested by state trooper Monday morning for driving drunk on the job.  According to Chip Meister, the Sheriff’s Deparmetn Chief Deputy, Vodak was on duty when his unmarked squad car rear-ended a vehicle stopped on Eighth Street waiting to turn left onto Ash Street in Baraboo around 8 a.m. Monday.

Because of Vodak’s “demeanor and the odor of intoxicants on his breath.” Meister said the Sheriff’s Department called in the State Patrol to investigate Vodak’s driving status.  According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department, a state trooper arrested Vodak for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, his first offense, and later released him to a “responsible party”.

If our police officers aren’t comprehending the consequences of driving impaired, then how in the world do we expect our teenagers to understand the consequences?

35 College Students die each week from alcohol related incidents

October 13, 2010

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that the number of alcohol-related deaths around college campuses is definitely on the rise.  This study found that an average of 35 alcohol related deaths are occurring each week, with 1,440 being reported in 1998 compared to 1,825 in 2009.

“These are tragically unacceptable high figures that indicate an urgent need for colleges and surrounding communities to implement evidence-based prevention and counseling programs,” said Dr. Ralph Hingson, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

For those ages 18-24, most deaths occur from traffic accidents where alcohol is a factor.  The study also found that more students are binge drinking which means they are having five or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting.  Just in the past year, the percentage of students admitting to drinking and driving increased from 27% to 29%.

WE ARE GOING IN REVERSE HERE PEOPLE!