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Dentists Now Drill Patients on Illegal Drug Use


(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Your employer may not be the only one questioning your illegal drug use. Now you could get “drilled” about it by your dentist. A new survey revealed that three out of four U.S dentists ask their patients about their illegal drug use.

One reason is the dental problems that long term drug use can cause such as tooth loss, tooth wear, gum disease and tooth decay, researchers explained. Drug history is helpful for dentists in treating patients effectively.

Another reason is that dentists are the second-largest group of prescribers for opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet.

In the study, lead author Carrigan Parish, an associate research scientist from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, explained further:

“Because dental care routinely involves treating pain and emergencies, dentists may encounter substance-seeking patients who complain of pain more severe than anticipated based on the nature of their dental condition, who report lost prescriptions for opioid pain medications, or who only seek dental treatment sporadically,”

  • Over 1,200 dentists nationwide responded to the survey.
  • More than half of dentists believe they should conduct drug screening of new patients.
  • The survey found that older dentists were less likely to screen for drug use.
  • Younger dentists under 53 years old were more likely to feel it was their role to conduct drug screenings.
  • Female respondents were more likely than males to agree that dentists should screen for illegal drug use

“There are a sizable number of people whose visit to a dentist represents their sole interaction with the health care system, highlighting the significance of the dental visit as a key opportunity to identify substance use disorders,” Parish said.

Dentists may require extra training to increase their awareness and knowledge of substance abuse, Parish said.  It still is also unclear how patients feel about these screenings.

“While surveys have shown that patients are amenable to receiving medical screenings by dentists ‘chair-side’ for such conditions as HIV, heart disease, and diabetes, further studies directly addressing patient attitudes on substance misuse screening are key in determining patients’ acceptance of such services,” Parish said.

With the opioid epidemic spreading throughout the country, anything to cut down on the addiction crisis can help lives.   Dentists rarely get the blame for the prescription drug abuse problem. I mean, you almost never hear terms like “dentist shopping” or “dental pill mills?” Dentists rarely are brought up even though they prescribe these strong pain medications on a regular basis.

The question remains on how to combat the drug abuse without hurting those patients who actually need the medications the most: Patients suffering from real dental pain. It is a complex problem and it is difficult for dentists to do anything about it.

One suggestion is to take advantage of “take back” days sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration to safely get rid of excess drugs. Flushing unused drugs is not recommended due to environmental contamination.

The next “take back” day is September 26. There are plenty of locations on the website where you can drop off your unused prescriptions.

Do you think dentists are taking a step in the right direction?  Remember, prescription medications should be used for their medical purposes only. If you find yourself falling into the cycle of addiction, remember you are not alone.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Finger Print Drug Testing is the Future

Finger Print Drug Testing is the Future

Author: Justin Mckibben

Recently there has been a lot of talk about new technologies being developed in regards to drug testing and new devices that have been developed here or there that are designed to detect specific narcotics. From marijuana breathalyzers to alcohol consumption wrist bands, there are all kinds of new inventions or techniques that are being used to identify when someone is getting a little past their limits, and now we are entering familiar secret-spy sounding territory.

Research has just been published in the journal Analyst that aims at demonstrating a new, non-invasive test that can detect cocaine use through a simple fingerprint.

Your probably wondering how can they know for sure your using? After all couldn’t traces of the powder just be in your skin if you handled it or something? Well actually this new fingerprint method can determine whether cocaine has been ingested, rather than just touched.

Nerdy Justice League

All previous fingerprint tests have employed similar methods as this most recent development, but they have only been able to show whether a person has touched cocaine, and not exactly if they have actually taken the drug.

University of Surrey led a team of researchers from several different schools, pulled together like a nerdy Justice League that included:

  • Netherlands Forensic Institute (NL)
  • National Physical Laboratory (UK)
  • King’s College London (UK)
  • Sheffield Hallam University (UK)

This conglomerate of chemistry geniuses and other science scholars used different types of an analytical chemistry technique known as “mass spectrometry” to analyze the fingerprints of patients attending drug treatment services, and the prints were tested against more commonly used saliva samples to determine whether the two tests correlated. Lead author Dr. Melanie Bailey from the University of Surrey stated:

“When someone has taken cocaine, they excrete traces of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine as they metabolise the drug, and these chemical indicators are present in fingerprint residue. For our part of the investigations, we sprayed a beam of solvent onto the fingerprint slide (a technique known as Desorption Electrospray Ionisation, or DESI) to determine if these substances were present.”

According to Dr. Bailey DESI has been used in the past for a number of forensic applications, but no other studies have shown it to demonstrate drug use such as this.

Back to the Future

Researchers believe that the applications for this test could be far-reaching and could make a vast impact in the justice system. Drug testing is routinely utilized in:

  • Probation services
  • Prisons
  • Courts and other law enforcement agencies

While we have relied on urine tests and other methods, these forms of traditional testing methods have limitations. Blood testing requires trained staff. Urine testing brings up privacy concerns. Bodily fluids can create biological hazards, and often these kinds of tests require for particular storage and disposal methods and off-site analysis. So it creates a whole realm of other obstacles.

But beyond all that even is the concept that makes this kind of testing always feel like something out of a scifi movie or a spy-thriller. Dr. Bailey added,

“The beauty of this method is that, not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it can’t be faked. By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself.”

It is anticipated that this technology could see the introduction of portable drug tests for law enforcement agencies to use within the next decade. According to Dr. Bailey there are already companies working to miniaturize mass spectrometers to make mobile finger-print drug testing a thing of the present. It not only becomes more easily accessible for law enforcement, but it is also safer on several levels for the individuals being tested.

So the only question left is; how long before we have this for other illegal substances. How long until we can detect heroin and other opiates or MDMA from someone’s fingerprint? And how much will this change the war on drugs?

Drug testing can be huge to keeping the streets safer from drugged drivers, and it can change a lot about how drug treatment is handled and monitored, and that could help save lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Drug Myths Debunked: Drug Testing

Drug Myths Drug Tests

We figured that it only made sense to include an article about the myths of drug testing in our series Drug Myths Debunked. Especially now that drug tests are easily accessible – they can be purchased online or at your local grocery or drug store. But how reliable are they? This is something that’s good to know if, for example, you are a concerned parent suspicious of your child or if you find yourself the subject of one of these tests. They may not be accurate or they may only detect certain drugs. The common myths about drug testing listed below also apply to drug screens performed by labs.

MYTH #1 – I haven’t smoked marijuana for 30 of days so I should be okay.

Truth – It really depends on a number of things: body fat, metabolism, and your body chemistry. For example, a very active person, with very low body fat who eats regularly should be able to get the metabolites out of their system more quickly, however a person with a very slow metabolism can store metabolites in their system for up to roughly two months. There is no fixed rule on time-frame for flushing marijuana out of your system.

MYTH #2 – Drinking lots of water X amount of days before my test will get the drugs out of my system.

Truth – Drinking lots of water only dilutes your urine sample the day you are tested so that the level(s) of the substance(s) you’re using will fall below the cut-off levels established by the test and/or the lab.

Myth #3 – Poppy seeds do not cause a false positive opiate result on a drug test.

Truth – The short answer is that it is possible although not probable. Poppy seeds can cause a positive result depending on the cutoff used for a positive test. For poppy seeds to create a positive result for opiates, you would have to eat a lot of poppy seeds. In addition, the poppy seeds would need to be un-washed and most commercial bakeries use washed poppy seeds.

Myth #4 – A second drug test will confirm a result of previous drug testing.

Truth – A second screen just provides the same results as the first screen and doesn’t exclude substances that might have caused a false positive, such as over the counter medications. Only by using a more sensitive test of the sample can a result be confirmed.

Myth #5 – Synthetic Opiates such as fentanyl can be detected by an opiate screening test.

Truth – Many synthetic opiates are not detected by an opiate screen and must be tested for with specific drug testing.

Myth #6 – Food and beauty products that contain hemp seed will not cause a positive THC drug test.

Truth – Products containing hemp seed have trace amounts of non-psychoactive THC and, depending on the amount you have used, positive drug testing can occur if you use these products.

Myth #7 – When test kit results and laboratory results do not agree this means that one or the other is not working correctly.

Truth – While both laboratory testing and instant testing devices are designed to identify drugs in a specimen, they can lead to showing different results. While instant test kits have the advantage of providing an immediate result, this drug testing tends to be limited in terms of identifying additives, substitutions or substances that can cause a false positive. Also with test kits, there is a chance of user error – the person reading the results can be mistaken about what they see or read the results wrong.

Myth #8 – Exposure to second hand pot smoke can cause a positive test result.

Truth – Secondhand exposure to a drug can cause it to show up in your urine, however, not at the high levels that actual use would cause. In order to safeguard against arguments that a positive result is from a contact high, cut-off levels have been established to make it virtually impossible for a positive result from just contact. Furthermore, cutoff levels for THC allow for you to be exposed to extreme, uncomfortable levels of secondhand smoke and for long periods of time without registering a positive urine test.

Myth #9 – Recent marijuana use can be detected by comparing THC levels to previous samples.

Truth – New marijuana use cannot be detected using only the THC level. The only way to determine new use in consecutive samples is to compare THC/Creatinine ratios. If the ratio increases in the second sample then new use has likely occurred.

MYTH #10 – Guaranteed products that boast beating a drug test are effective at cleansing my system.

Truth – Not so. If you happen to find one that “works,” this means it was effective at masking the drugs in your system; not cleansing them from your system. And using this method is a roll of the dice: labs continuously monitor for these products and their additives for their presence in urine. So, even if they do mask drug levels, these additives will show up and be a red flag for the lab. There is no known product that will remove the metabolites from your system.

If you or someone you know is in need of treatment for drug abuse, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.




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