Drug & Alcohol Testing: Attachment A
Effects of Alcohol and Controlled Substances
Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug that has been consumed throughout the world for centuries.
It is considered a recreational beverage when consumed in moderation for enjoyment and relaxation during social gatherings. However, when consumed primarily for its physical and mood-altering effects, it is a substance of abuse.
What follows is a discussion of:
- The effects of alcohol misuse and controlled substance abuse on an individual's health, work, and personal life;
- The signs and symptoms of an alcohol problem and controlled substance abuse; and
- The available methods of intervening when an alcohol problem and/or controlled substance abuse is suspected.
Effects on Health
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. As such, it slows down physical responses and progressively impairs mental functions. Alcohol also depresses the brain centers for self-control and inhibition - leading to loud and aggressive behavior, which makes alcohol appear to act like a stimulant.
Alcohol use can cause unconsciousness, coma, respiratory failure and death. It can have long degenerative effects on many body organs, including the liver, stomach, intestines, heart and brain. The chronic consumption of alcohol (average of three servings per day of beer [12 ounces], whiskey [one ounce], or wine [six ounces] over time can result in the following health hazards:
- Decreased sexual functioning
- Fatal liver diseases
- Kidney disease
- Spontaneous abortion and neonatal mortality
- Birth defects
Effects on Work
Alcohol dulls sensation and impairs vision, memory, coordination and judgment. This can lead to risky behavior, i.e. dangerous driving. Impairment in coordination and judgment can be objectively measured with as little as two drinks in the body. It takes one hour for the average person [150 pounds] to process one serving of an alcoholic beverage from the body. The District recommends that all safety sensitive employees cease ingestion of alcohol (of any kind, whether it be beer, wine or liquor) at least eight (8) hours prior to performing a safety sensitive function. Because different types of alcohol will result in an alcohol concentration of different amounts depending upon the age, size, and weight of the individual, and because other factors may also contribute to alcohol concentration in an individual, Essex Westford School District cannot provide advice as to either the amount or type of alcohol that can safely be consumed by an employee eight hours or more prior to performing a safety sensitive function.
A person who is legally intoxicated is six (6) times more likely to have an accident than a sober person.
The estimated cost of alcohol abuse is about $259 billion in 201, according to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). This figure includes medical bills, time lost from work, decreased job efficiency and property damage.
Effects on Personal Life
The impact of alcohol abuse goes beyond the problem drinker. Each alcoholic affects the lives of four to seven people. Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of child abuse and neglect. It also figures prominently in spousal abuse. Alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Each year in the U.S., over 100,000 deaths are related to alcohol. This figure includes deaths from vehicular accidents, drownings, suicides and numerous physical ailments. This makes alcohol the third leading cause of death in America. The annual toll is broken down as follows:
- 24,000 people will die on the highway due to the legally impaired driver;
- 12,000 more will die on the highway due to the alcohol-affected driver;
- 15,800 will die in non-highway accidents;
- 30,000 will die due to alcohol-caused liver disease;
- 10,000 will die due to alcohol-induced brain disease or suicide; and
- Up to another 125,000 will die due to alcohol-related conditions or accidents.
The following are additional social issues related to alcohol:
- Two-thirds of all homicides are committed by people who drink prior to the crime; two to three percent of the driving population is legally drunk at any one time. This rate is doubled at night and on weekends.
- Two-thirds of all Americans will be involved in alcohol-related vehicle accident during their lifetime;
- The rate of separation and divorce in families with alcohol dependency problems is seven times the average;
- 40% of family court cases are alcohol problem related;
- Alcoholics are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than are other segments of the population; and
- More than 60% of burns, 40% of falls, 69% of boating accidents and 76% of private aircraft accidents are alcohol related.
Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Problem
Alcohol causes both psychological and physical dependence. When a drinker uses alcohol as an escape from problems and stress and comes to depend on the drug for relief, psychological dependence is present.
When repeated drinking produces tolerance (which is a need to consume more of the drug to obtain the same effect), and the drinker's body needs alcohol to function, physical dependence has developed. Once dependent, many drinkers experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking.
Alcoholism is a disease characterized by, among other things, the drinker's loss of control over his or her drinking, and continued drinking despite major negative consequences. In general, people are said to have a problem with alcohol, or be alcoholic, if they cannot control their drinking, if they are dependent on the drug and if their drinking has a negative impact on their physical or mental health, their families, friends and jobs.
How a person using alcohol appears/behaves:
- Poor muscle coordination;
- Dulled mental process;
- Slowed reaction rate;
- Slurred speech;
- Red eyes;
- Possible constricted pupils;
- Poor hygiene;
- Lack of social control;
- Sleepy or stuporous condition;
- Loss of inhibitions;
- Lack of concentration;
- Aggressive or violent behavior;
- Odor of alcohol on breath;
Effects of Controlled Substances On The Body
Cannabis is the Latin, or scientific name for the entire plant hemp, legally named marijuana or marihuana in some jurisdictions. Names for three recognized species include: Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis, Cannabis sativa.
Street names include: 420, Blunt, Bud, Chronic, Dope, Endo, Ganja, Grass, Hashish, Herb, Homegrown, Jay, Kief, Kush, Mary Jane, Mota, Pot, Roach, Sinsemilla, Skunk, Spliff, and Weed.
Marijuana alters sense of time and reduces the ability to perform tasks requiring concentration, swift reactions, coordination. The drug has a significant effect on judgment, caution, and sensory/motor abilities.
- Driving ability impaired for at least 4-6 hours
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased pulse rate and blood pressure
- Rapidly changing emotions and erratic behavior
- Altered sense of identity
- Impaired memory
- Dulling of attention
- Hallucinations, fantasies, and paranoia
- Reduction or temporary loss of fertility
Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which increases heart rate and blood pressure. As a powder, cocaine is inhaled (snorted), ingested, or injected.
Street names include: coke, blow, snow. Cocaine is also used as free-base cocaine known as crack, or rock, which is smoked.
Cocaine can cause vomiting, rapid heart beat, tremors, and convulsive movements. All of this muscle activity increases the demand for oxygen, which can result in a cocaine-induced heart attack. Since the heat-regulating center in the brain is also disrupted, dangerously high body temperatures can occur. With high doses, brain functioning, breathing, and heartbeat are depressed - leading to death.
- Momentary euphoria and confidence
- Accelerated pulse, blood pressure, and respiration
- Impaired driving ability
- Mood swings
- Repeated sniffing/snorting causes irritation of the nostrils and nasal membrane
- Reduced sense of humor
- Compulsive behavior
Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and promote a feeling of alertness and an increase in speech and general physical activity. They can be legal or illegal. Legal amphetamines are prescribed by a doctor and used to treat health problems such as obesity, narcolepsy, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using amphetamines can lead to addiction.
Commercial names include: Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Ritalin.
Street names include: Black Beauties, Bennies, Crystal Meth, Dexies, Ecstasy, Meth, MDA, MDMA, Molly, Skippy, Speed, Truck Drivers, Uppers, Vitamin R.
People with a history of sustained use quite often become dependent and believe they need the drug to get by. These users frequently keep taking amphetamines to avoid the "down" mood they experience when the "high" wears off.
Even small infrequent doses can produce toxic effects in some people; restlessness, anxiety, mood swings, panic, heart beat disturbances, paranoid thoughts, hallucinations, convulsions, and coma have been reported. Long-term users often have acne resembling measles, trouble with their teeth, gums and nails, and dry, dull hair. Heavy, frequent doses can produce brain damage resulting in speech disturbances.
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability, anxiety, apprehension
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Difficulty in focusing eyes
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Distorted thinking
- Perspiration, headaches, and dizziness
- Short-term insomnia
Opiates and their synthetic counterparts (opioids) are a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin as well as power pain relievers available by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, and many others.
Commercial names include: Demerol®, Dilaudid®, Lorcet®, OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®.
Street names include: Brown Sugar, China White, Dope, Horse, Junk, Morpho, Oxy, Smack, Cody, Hillbilly Heroin, Pain Killer, Sizzurp, Percs, Purple Drank, Syrup, China Girl, China White, Vike.
These drugs reduce pain and suppress coughs, but can also cause intense euphoria or intense high that can lead to dependence and/or addiction, whether the drug ingested is heroin or a legally prescribed drug.
The effects are accentuated most when the drugs are delivered rapidly into the brain, thereby causing users “chasing the high” to snort or inject crushed prescription pills or heroin.
On an average day:
- At least 78 people will die from an opioid-related overdose. The 2016 overdose death statistics will far outnumber the 78-deaths-per-day statistic of 2014.
- 3,900 people will use a prescription opioid outside of legitimate medical purposes and supervision. These prescription drugs are many times obtained through theft, fraud, or otherwise diverted from people with legitimate, medically-appropriate prescriptions.
- 580 people will try heroin for the first time.
Heroin overdoses have increased 244% between 2007 and 2013. Many of the new heroin users are youths, with an average age of 24 ½ years old for first-time users.
The change in heroin administration routes to pill form, coupled with the rise of counterfeit pills often containing heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl derivatives, has caused unwitting users who purchase drugs on the street to overdose and die in record numbers.
- Short-lived state of euphoria
- Impaired driving ability
- Drowsiness followed by sleep
- Decreased physical activity
- Reduced vision
- Change in sleeping habits
- Respiratory arrest
- Possible death
Phencyclidine or PCP, also called Angel Dust, was developed as a surgical anesthetic in the late 1950's. Later, due to its unusual side effects in humans, it was restricted to use as a veterinary anesthetic and tranquilizer. Today it has no lawful use and is no longer legally manufactured.
PCP scrambles the brain's internal stimuli and alters how users see and deal with their environment. Routine activities like driving and walking become difficult.
Low doses produce a rush, sometimes associated with a feeling of numbness. Increased doses produce an excited, confused state including any of the following: muscle rigidity, loss of concentration and memory, visual disturbances, delirium, feelings of isolation, and convulsions.
- Impaired driving ability
- Repetitive speech patterns
- Incomplete verbal responses
- Blank stare
- Thick slurred speech
- Involuntary eye movement
Available Methods of Intervening When An Alcohol or Controlled Substance Problem is Suspected
EWSD Employees may voluntarily seek the assistance through Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Note: All of these symptoms may indicate problems of alcohol and or drug abuse, but may also be symptomatic of other types of personal problems. Supervisors and managers should not attempt to diagnose an alcohol or drug abuse problem, but should confine themselves to observable job performance behaviors.
A management supervisor, trained in Reasonable Suspicion determination may determine that an employee has serious work performance problems and reasonably suspect the possibility of impairment as outlined in the Reasonable Suspicion section of the Essex Westford School District Procedures on Prohibited Drug Use and Alcohol Misuse. In this instance, upon a verified positive test result the employee will be removed from safety-sensitive functions and referred to a DOT qualified SAP for assistance.
The SAP’s job is to assess the nature and extent of the employee's alcohol or controlled substance problem, if any, and then to recommend a course of treatment. Treatment may involve inpatient detoxification and rehabilitation, partial hospitalization, outpatient counseling, attending self-help group meetings (i.e. AA, ALANON, etc.), or some combination of these modes. The SAP would follow steps outlined in the DOT regulations 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart O – Return to duty process.