Archive for the ‘Drugged Driving’ Category

Treatment vs Jail: Portugal’s Success

January 5, 2011

drugs problem addicted arresting addiction illegal jail treatment counseling Portugal flag government addicts abuse drug-related court crime problem public health drug-using criminals ignition interlock device Cleared2Drive relapsing

The United States has been fighting the war on drugs for decades now and there seems to be no end in sight which bring to mind the old proverb about the definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.’  Well I think it is time we start doing things differently and here is a good example of where we should start.

Big Risk, Big Reward

Ten years ago, Portugal had a big drug problem. 100,000 people, or about 1% of the population, were addicted to drugs. Portugal found itself in the never-ending cycle of arresting drug criminals, prosecuting them, and then after their sentence was complete finding them back on the streets again. It’s one of the main problems countries face when trying to end drug addiction and the crimes that so often are associated with it.

In 2000, Portugal passed a law that decriminalized the use of all illegal drugs. Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, but instead of throwing someone in possession of drugs to jail, it sends them to treatment or counseling. Portugal wrote it into law that anyone caught with illegal drugs instead of being charged with a criminal offense will go directly to a “Dissuasion Committee” for counseling and further treatment if necessary.

It’s not a new concept, but it is one that is difficult to carry out. How does a government take the first step and say that citizens aren’t going to get in trouble if they are caught with illegal drugs? Fears in Portugal were that everyone would go out and try drugs, and that the country would become full of addicts who were getting away with their drug abuse. But that hasn’t happened. In the last 10 years, Portugal has seen drug-related court cases drop 66%, the number of drug abusers has remained the same, and the number of people receiving treatment rose 20%. Most importantly, some of the country’s worst neighborhoods, once plagued with drug addicts and crime, have become safe.

Opponents

Some argue that policies like these are too soft on drug addicts, and without pressure and the threat of jail some people will never change, and for some people that is true. But only in countries that become lax when it comes to carrying out the law do they see an increase in drug users, but in countries like Portugal who have followed through with the treatment part of the plan, they have seen success. It works because they have changed the drug problem from a law enforcement issue to a public health issue which can be more openly managed.

Throwing a drug addict in jail does little good. We can expect 48% of substance abusing criminals to get caught using drugs again. However, if we can get these people the help they need to live a life without drugs, we can change their lives for good and we would encourage these countries to implement a mandatory ignition interlock device like Cleared2Drive program, which can prevent drugged or impaired driving as they too have proven very successful in keeping people from relapsing.

New Study Finds Drug Addiction Rates Up for both Prescription Drug Treatment and Illegal Drug Addiction

December 29, 2010

Dr Richard Miech Health and Behavioral Sciences University of Colorado Denver drug abuse accidental poisoning deaths prescription drug treatment medications illegal drug overdose baby Drug Enforcement Administration DEA painkillers Vicodin Dr Wilson Compton director Division of Epidemiology Services Prevention Research National Institute on Drug Abuse death epidemic under the influence driving while impaired DWI prevent impaired drivingAccording to Dr. Richard Miech, lead author of the study and head of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, the baby boomer generation’s impact on the death rates from drug abuse was overshadowed by a “huge increase” in accidental poisoning deaths overall. Miech attributed the increase to the growing number of prescription drug treatment medications used in the U.S. by all age groups. This new research indicates that an increasing number of people are dying from drug abuse or misuse, including both prescription drug abuse and illegal drug addiction. Moreover, the study found that in some groups, “accidental poisonings” as they are called, mostly the result of drug overdose, are more than ten times higher than they were in the late 1960s.

The famous drug-loving baby boomers make up a significant part of the recent increase in drug abuse, as they age and embrace prescription medications, but also death from accidental poisonings is higher across nearly all age groups than it was a few decades ago, especially among white Americans.

The study found that overall, white men and women were nine times as likely to die from accidental poisoning in 2005 through 2007 than they were in 1968-69, while black men and women were about three times more likely to die from accidental poisoning in recent years than they were 40 years ago. According to the analysis, changes in the body or changes in drug treatment use shifted the greatest proportion of drug overdose cases to people in their 40s and 50s, and that age group, which currently includes the tail-end of the baby boomer generation, is the segment in which some of the biggest changes in poisoning rates were registered. For instance, in 1968 about one in 100,000 white women in their early 50s died from accidental poisoning, while the current rates increased to 15 out of 100,000.

The study authors could not precisely determine what drugs caused the most accidental poisonings, however according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) most prescription drug abuse involves painkillers, with Vicodin as the most commonly abused prescription drug treatment in the U.S. According to a 2004 government report, nearly half of all Americans, across all age groups, take a prescription drug treatment. Moreover, Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that death from prescription painkiller overdose has been “an epidemic in the past ten years”.

And, if you think that these individuals are not driving under the influence, I’ve a some ocean front property in Oklahoma I would like to sell you.  When you know your loved one is using or abusing prescription drugs or any type of drug and driving while impaired (DWI) there is a way to stop them.  Before Cleared2Drive all you could do was pray, but now you can take action.  Have a Cleared2Drive system installed on their vehicle and prevent impaired driving forever.

Wyoming is Unfortunately Losing their Battle Against Drunk Driving

December 19, 2010

intoxicated MADD Cleared2Drive dangers drunk driving drugged driving impaired driving Good2Gofatalities involving alcoholWyoming’s crash data suggests that drinking and driving contributes to more deaths and injuries on the road in the Cowboy State than safety advocates or any of the rest of us would like.  Of the 116 fatal crashes that happened in Wyoming in 2009, 55 people died because alcohol was a factor.  Of 3,361 injury crashes, 697 people were hurt because of alcohol.

Between 2005 and 2007, alcohol contributed to an average of 33% of the state’s highway fatalities, according to Wyoming’s 2009 Report on Traffic Crashes, released earlier this month. In 2008, that went up to 50%, and in 2009 it was 41%. While an odd year can really skew the numbers in a sparsely populated state like Wyoming, the five-year average for percentage of fatalities involving alcohol is 38.  According to Dee West Peterson, State Coordinator for Highway Safety at the Wyoming Department of Transportation which puts out the above report, “We’re not winning this battle”.

Too often, people think they can make it home safely when they are intoxicated, said Debbie Taylor, a MADD volunteer in Casper.”I do believe it is a cultural change that needs to take place,” she said and all of us at Cleared2Drive couldn’t agree more.  As we have stated many times, we have been educating people of the dangers of drunk driving for close to 30 years now and unfortunately many have not gotten the message.  It is going to take much more than education and the possibility of some sort of punishment to eradicate drunk driving or drugged driving or  impaired driving or whatever you want to call it in Wyoming or any other state.

Drug-related crashes up in Florida

December 17, 2010

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration NHTSA illegal drugs pharmaceuticals tested positive illicit drug criminal offense fatalities New Year's Day holiday drive impaired Cleared2Drive Good2GoIs anyone surprised that the number of drug-related traffic crashes is rising in Florida given that they are the nation’s prescription drug capital?  Yes, it is nice that as the holiday season gets under way the state is ratcheting up its efforts against drunk and drugged driving, but let’s be honest here folks, Florida’s impaired driving problem isn’t going to go away just because we ring in a new year.

Over the holidays the Florida Highway Patrol says it is launching a new crackdown on impaired drivers (glad to see they are now starting to focus on impaired driving as opposed to just drunk driving) as the numbers show there’s a real need for it.  The latest statistics show drug-related crashes and injuries are up more than 10% in Florida, according to Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. “Drug-related crashes increased by nearly 11% and drug-related injuries by more than 19%. These are numbers that we cannot ignore.” When you include drunk driving, the problem is even worse. Alcohol and drugs were factors in 44% of the more than 2,500 fatal crashes last year.

According to Bruce Grant, Director of Florida’s Office of Drug Control, driving at night on weekends is even riskier.  He sights a national survey by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that a lot of drivers are using illegal drugs or pharmaceuticals on weekend nights.  “One in eight nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. That number rises to one out of every six when you include not only illicit drugs but also pharmaceuticals.”

Grant says 17 other states make it a criminal offense to drive while using an illegal drug and he is urging Florida lawmakers to adopt a similar law.  “I think it’s time for Florida to seriously consider adopting a version of this so that we stop the increase that we see in drugged driving and prevent these crashes from becoming fatalities.” In my humble opinion, Florida should have been leading the charge on this one!

Over the New Year’s Day holiday in 2009, Florida experienced a record high fatality rate.  Police say DUI/DWI crashes killed 34 people over the four-day period.  Now with another New Year’s holiday fast approaching, Kottkamp is urging Floridians not to drive impaired this holiday season. “I would encourage all Floridians to be responsible and make good decisions, decisions that can make all live a better life.”

Yes, it good to “encourage” people to be responsible and not drive impaired, but when they can’t do it on their own, take comfort knowing Cleared2Drive can do it for them.

NTSB wants to make Hard-Core Drunk Drivers a High PriorityT

December 15, 2010

Laura Dean-Mooney national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving MADD ignition interlocks impaired driving breathalyzer Sarah Longwell American Beverage Institute moderate social drinking DUI offenders sobriety checkpoints Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology impaired drivingUSA Today reports The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants states to make drivers caught with high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) or repeat drunk driving offenses a high priority.  Excuse me for asking, but why is the NTSB waiting until December 2009 to make this a priority?

NTSB reports that 70% of the drunk-driving accidents last year were caused by these  so-called “hard-core” drunk drivers. The term, “hard-core drunk drivers” is defined as individuals who have a second DUI offense within 10 years of their first, or who are found to have at least 0.15 percent alcohol content in their blood.

Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety says, “Hard-core drunk drivers are, in many ways, resistant to the countermeasures we’ve applied since the early ’80s”. Back in the early 1980s when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded, drunk driving accounted for 50% of road fatalities, where in 2009 it accounted for 32%, when 10,839 people were killed.  In my estimation given the amount of education we have done in the US over the past 30 years, this number is still extremely high.

“You’re seeing harsher and harsher statutes being enacted in various states across the country,” said Joanne Michaels, who directs the National Traffic Law Center. She said that district attorneys are charging drunken drivers in fatal crashes as severely as possible which don’t you think they should have been doing all along?  Didn’t most of us Americans come to the conclusion years ago that drunk driving is no accident and is 100% preventable?

Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD, said, “We believe that anyone who drives drunk is a potential threat to kill or injure people” and wants federal lawmakers to require that all first-time DUI offenders get ignition interlocks. Okay, this is good, but until we start approaching this with a pro-active solution, impaired driving is not going to stop.  MADD is also is asking that Congress allocate $60 million to create and test improved ignition interlock devices to be put in all vehicles which is only going to work if you develop the right technology.  Asking people to put a tricked out breathalyzer, or a breathalyzer called something else in a lame attempt to disguise it, in their vehicle is just not going to fly.  The breathalyzer has a stigma that is just NOT going to go away – see December 14th blog.

Sarah Longwell of The American Beverage Institute said that MADD’s plans go far beyond just hard-core drunk drivers. “Rather than focusing on the hard-core population, there has been this move to target moderate social drinking,” she said. She favored graduated sanctions for offenders and mobile patrols for DUI offenders instead of sobriety checkpoints.

Honestly, until we as a society utilize technology designed specifically to recognize impairment like Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology, drunk or impaired driving is not going away and we will continue to bury our loved ones.

Alcoholism stigma keeps more than 60% of Americans from seeking treatment

December 14, 2010

stigma alcoholism drinking problems Dr. Katherine Keyes of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) alcohol use disorder alcohol abuse treatment psychiatric disorders drive under the influence ignition interlock devices breathalyzers New research indicates that due to the stigma of alcoholism, more than 60% of Americans with drinking problems do not seek the help they so desperately need, UPI reported Dec. 5.

Dr. Katherine Keyes of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health led a team of investigators who looked at National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) responses from more than 6,300 participants who met criteria for an alcohol use disorder. According to their findings, problem drinkers who perceived a stigma associated with alcohol abuse, which accounted for a full 2/3 of the participants, were less likely to seek treatment than those who did not.   This was especially true among men, racial and ethnic minorities, and participants with lower income and education.

“Given that alcohol use disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States, the empirical documentation of stigma as a barrier to treatment is an important public health finding,” said Keyes.  Their recommendation is that stigma reduction should be integrated into public health efforts to promote alcohol treatment.  And while that is all well and good, that could literally take a lifetime and in the meantime . . .

In the meantime, all those Americans with drinking problems continue with their problems and most likely will drive under the influence.

This is “empirical documentation of stigma” also applies to ignition interlock devices, better known as breathalyzers, which is why they will never be accepted by the general public no matter what label The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) slaps on them.  In our society we believe that in order for someone to have a breathalyzer in their vehicle they must have gotten a DUI arrest or DWI arrest which translates into “you are a bad person.”  Americans are asking the federal government’s to spend $60 million dollars to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) system, but in my humble opinion, the general public is never going to accept the type of technology they are currently working on  as they already see it as nothing more than a fancy, dressed up term for breathalyzer.

We have worked very hard to keep our Cleare2Drive System from getting just such a reputation because our Impairment Detection Technology (IDT) is NOT a breathalyzer – never has been, never will be.  Our IDT is the newest in safety technology just like airbags were a few years ago.  Unlike breathalyzers our system is so discreet that even a passenger in your front seat won’t notice that you are doing anything out of the ordinary to start your vehicle as the sequence necessary to start the vehicle is typically completed in less than 10 seconds.

Granted our clients are typically NOT the person with the substance abuse problem, most of the time it is a member of their family, and in talking to enough of them we know that they would never consider installing a breathalyzer on the vehicle voluntarily just because of  the “empirical stigma”.  With the Cleared2Drive system no one is stigmatized or embarrassed by having to blow into a tube.  We purposefully designed the Cleared2Drive System to detect impairment but do it in a manner that reinforces good behavior, protects everyone on the road, all without ever subjecting the driver to embarrassment or humiliation.

Drug Prescriptions Double for Teens and Young Adults Compared to 15 Years Ago

December 13, 2010

Cleared2Drive Good2Go drunk driving impaired driving  Breathalyzers Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) ignition interlock device Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Drunk DrivingTwice as many teens and young adults are getting prescriptions for controlled substances than had been 15 years ago, Reuters reported Nov. 29.

Investigators led by Robert J. Fortuna, MD, of the University of Rochester’s Strong Children’s Research Center in New York, assessed U.S. prescription trends for 15- to 29-year-olds based on 2007 survey data from more than 8,000 physicians, clinics, and emergency departments. They then compared results with similar data from 1994. Analysis revealed that more than 11 percent of teenagers received prescriptions for controlled medications (including Oxycontin, Vicodin, Ritalin, and sedatives) in 2007, up from 6 percent in 1994. A similar trend was seen for young adults, where the prescription rate for such drugs rose from 8 to 16 percent over the same time period.

As noted by Fortuna, the rise does not necessarily mean the drugs are being diverted or abused. However, teenagers and college students are much more likely than adults to use prescription drugs recreationally and to pass them on to others. “Physicians need to have open discussions with patients about the risks and benefits of using controlled medications, including the potential for misuse and diversion,” he said. “The nonmedical use of prescription drugs by adolescents and young adults has surpassed all illicit drugs except marijuana,” concluded the authors. “This trend and its relationship to misuse of medications warrants further study.” The article was published online Nov. 29 in the journal Pediatrics.

Studies like this reinforces what we at Cleared2Drive have been saying, we need to stop focusing on ways to eradicate “drunk driving” and focus on what is truly happening in our society which means we need to focus our efforts on eradicating “impaired driving.”  Breathalyzers and all the effort that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) is putting into developing their Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology will do nothing to stop someone under the influence of illicit drugs or prescription drugs (better known as  drugged driving) from operating a vehicle but Cleared2Drive’s ignition interlock device (IID) that is based upon their internationally patented Impairment Detection Technology will. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) now admits that we need to stop focusing solely on “Drunk Driving” and put our efforts behind stopping “Impaired Driving”.

Drug use found in 33% of drivers killed

December 2, 2010

drug-test results National District Attorneys Association illegal substances cocaine Don Egdorf Houston Police Department DWI task force abuse prescription drugs David Strickland NHTSA Good2GoAccording to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released report, 1/3 of all drug tests on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging anywhere from hallucinogens to prescription painkillers last year.

The report, the agency’s first analysis of drug use in traffic crashes, showed a 5-percentage-point increase in the number of tested drivers found to have drugs in their systems since 2005. The increase coincided with more drivers being tested for drugs, the report shows.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the numbers are “alarmingly high” and called for more states to address the problem of driving and drug use. Seventeen states have some form of such laws, according to NHTSA: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Obviously more need them.

Although much research has been done on alcohol’s effects on driving, little has been done on the impact of drugs on driving, researchers say. The NHTSA analysis doesn’t address whether the drugs were at levels that would impair driving because right now there isn’t a standardized test. What they need is a system like Cleared2Drive, one that detects impairment not arbitrary levels in a person’s blood.

Jim Lavine, the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said drug-test results don’t always pinpoint when the person took the drug: It could have been days or weeks ago.  Again, another reason to focus solely on impairment detection.

The lack of research presents a problem for lawmakers, adds Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association. “With respect to illegal substances, the answer seems fairly easy: ‘You can’t drive with cocaine on board,’ ” he says. “The tougher question becomes, ‘What do you do with prescription drugs?’ ”

Don Egdorf of the Houston Police Department’s DWI task force says many people abuse prescription drugs. “If you have tooth pain, they give you Vicodin. You might develop a tolerance,” he said. “You might end up taking two instead of one.”

David Strickland of NHTSA recommends better state records of crashes involving prescription drugs.  While record keeping is important, shouldn’t our main focus be on prevention?

Cleared2Drive anyone?