How do Drugs Get into Hair?

Have you ever wondered how we can even test for drugs in hair? Here we explain how this is possible using some simple diagrams. Hair growth explained Hair is produced by follicles that lie below the skin and it takes about [more]

The Dangers of Ketamine for Seafarers

The effects and risks of ketamine to seafarers can be significant, even when taken in low doses, and can pose a dangerous risk to your vessels. Did you know? In some Asian regions ketamine users account for over 30% of [more]

Helping Seafarers Understand How Much Alcohol They Consume

You may have noticed we mention ‘units of alcohol’ within our literature or on our website and wondered what this was. What are Units of Alcohol? In the UK a unit of alcohol is a measure used to show what the [more]

Seven Considerations When Writing a Maritime Drug and Alcohol Policy

Writing a Drug and Alcohol Policy for a Maritime Organisation seems simple right? This is not always the case; however it can be simplified if you consider all of the relevant variables right from the [more]

New Psychoactive Substances - What’s all the fuss about?

Have you heard about New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in the news and wondered what they are and how they may affect Maritime Organisations – read on to find out! What are NPS? New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are [more]

Global and Regional Drug Trends

As a Maritime Organisation that works internationally, employing multi-national Crews and travelling across international trading routes, it is hard to stay up to date with global drug use trends. However the safety of [more]

How do Drugs Get into Hair?

Have you ever wondered how we can even test for drugs in hair? Here we explain how this is possible using some simple diagrams.

Hair growth explained

Hair is produced by follicles that lie below the skin and it takes about two weeks for the hair to emerge above the surface of the skin. On average head hair grows at approximately 1cm per month with the hair closest to the scalp being the most recent growth.

Drugs Incorporation into Hair

Drugs are Incorporated into the Hair

Occasional Drug Use - How does it look in hair?

Habitual Drug Use - How does it look in hair?

As you can see by looking at the last two diagrams there is a difference in the types of analysis that the laboratory can undertake to show that drugs have been used, if there are trends in use, or if there are even drugs in the hair at all.

If you have any questions about how drugs are incorporated into hair please contact our Technical Information Group via toxeu.tig@alere.com

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
Posted in Drug Testing, Family Law, General News | Leave a comment

The Dangers of Ketamine for Seafarers

The Dangers of Ketamine for Seafarers

The effects and risks of ketamine to seafarers can be significant, even when taken in low doses, and can pose a dangerous risk to your vessels.

Did you know?

In some Asian regions ketamine users account for over 30% of all drug users – it does not just stop there; ketamine use has been reported in 62 countries and territories overall.

So what is Ketamine?

It is an anaesthetic used for medical and veterinary purposes but it is also taken illicitly in tablet form, in alcoholic drinks, by injection or by smoking it with cannabis.

  • The effects of taking ketamine may include feeling an altered state of consciousness, nausea, numbness, depression, amnesia, hallucinations, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • The risks of taking ketamine include collapse, coma and severe urological problems.

Should you consider adding ketamine to your testing panel?

Register your interest now >

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
Posted in Drug News, Drug Testing, General News, Maritime Solutions, Substance Misuse | Leave a comment

Helping Seafarers Understand How Much Alcohol They Consume

Helping Seafarers Understand How Much Alcohol They Consume

You may have noticed we mention ‘units of alcohol’ within our literature or on our website and wondered what this was.

What are Units of Alcohol?

In the UK a unit of alcohol is a measure used to show what the alcoholic content of a drink including alcohol is. This was put in place to help individuals easily understand how much alcohol they are consuming.

Do other countries use ‘units’ also?

Some other countries use the term ‘standard drink’ for the same purposes.  A standard drink looks at a fixed amount of pure alcohol and varies depending on volume and alcohol concentration. This varies from country to country but is in use in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United States of America.

How can I educate my crews?

If this information could be relevant to your crews, consider ordering our booklets “Alcohol and Drugs: The Facts, Useful facts for seafarers” which are great reference guides.

Contact us to discuss via toxeu.international@alere.com

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
Posted in General News, Maritime Solutions, Substance Misuse | Leave a comment

Seven Considerations When Writing a Maritime Drug and Alcohol Policy

MLPWEB0146-Maritime-Policy-(MT)

Writing a Drug and Alcohol Policy for a Maritime Organisation seems simple right? This is not always the case; however it can be simplified if you consider all of the relevant variables right from the beginning.

Vessels and ships are very different from other workplaces in that they are mobile so need to take international legislation/guidelines into account, whilst also being a home and workplace.

Our Policy experts have years of experience helping our customers with their Drug and Alcohol Policies, from reviewing them, advising on content or helping to write a Policy from scratch – here’s an opportunity to take advantage of their considerable experience and advice on the factors to consider.

  1. Form a working group

Involving key stakeholders right at the beginning of the process has multiple benefits:

  • It creates a good working relationship.
  • It helps unions or working groups understand the policy.
  • Input helps with buy-in as concerns can be raised and addressed.
  1. Defining key terms

The wording used within a Drug and Alcohol Policy is important and needs to be thoroughly considered. Defining key terms, such as ‘misuse’, ‘drugs’ and ‘positive result’, to name a few, is necessary because it is part of setting the ground rules in a clear manner. Once agreed all key terms should be listed upfront and used consistently throughout the policy.

Something else to take into account is distinguishing between impairment due to the inappropriate use of drugs and/or alcohol, and dependency or personal problems resulting from the use of these substances, as these terms can be reflected in Employment Law concepts of ‘conduct’ and ‘capability’.

Finally differentiating between ‘drugs’ and ‘alcohol’ is also significant due to the accepted nature of blood alcohol levels and impairment for alcohol, where as a positive drug test shows use, but not the when, where or if the Seafarer was impaired at the time of testing.

  1. Setting the rules

This is essential so Seafarers know exactly what is expected of them. It’s important to be fair and reasonable, to set these rules following staff consultation, to be clear and to ensure they are communicated to all marine staff and finally that they will be applied reasonably and consistently.

  1. Using a drug and alcohol testing programme

Testing for drugs and alcohol is a tool that has enormous value as a deterrent, and provides a visible record of the success of a policy. Include details around which Seafarers will be tested, when they will be tested and how they will be tested. It must be clear what the consequences of positive test results, refusals to take tests, or the deliberate interference with test procedures will be and any other actions which will be considered a breach of policy, resulting in disciplinary action outside of testing.

  1. Educating your employees

As the use of drugs and alcohol is effectively a lifestyle choice, education plays a key role in successfully introducing and implementing a Drug and Alcohol Policy. Topics to cover include both the purpose of a policy and the health and safety factors Seafarers should consider. Those that implement the policy should also be confident in the procedures; their education is a key cornerstone to consider.

  1. Providing support for your employees

Supporting staff that either come forward or are identified from the drug and alcohol testing programme to be problem users is something to be prepared for. Consider what information about the types of help is available, are they given advice about taking medicines at work and can they access an employee assistance programme.

  1. Legislation to consider

There could potentially be various legislations that you may need to consider, including local, international and industry related legislation – this is going to be specific to each Maritime Organisation. Here are a few Maritime related codes, guidelines or requirements to consider:

  • IMO International Safety Management Code (ISM Code)
  • IMO International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Regulations
  • Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) Drug and Alcohol Guidelines
  • Exxon Mobil Tanker Time Charter Party
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG) requirements for the drug and alcohol testing regulations in Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 4 and 16

Now you know the seven considerations why not visit our website to download our free ‘Policy Guidance Notes’ and learn more about what our Drug and Alcohol Policy Experts can do for you.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
Posted in Alcohol Testing, Drug Testing, General News, Maritime Solutions | Leave a comment

New Psychoactive Substances – What’s all the fuss about?

NPS - What's all the fuss about?

Have you heard about New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in the news and wondered what they are and how they may affect Maritime Organisations – read on to find out!

What are NPS?

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are marketed as alternatives to controlled drugs and claim to deliver similar effects to ‘traditional’ drugs.1 They have been around for some time and are often referred to as ‘legal highs’, ‘herbal highs’, ‘bath salts’ or ‘research chemicals’. They differ massively in terms of their effects, how they are used and their history.2

How prevalent are NPS?

According to the UNODC over 100 countries and territories from all over the world have reported one or more NPS, and their Early Warning Advisory received reports of over 600 substances by December 2015.3 Within Europe, there has been a huge increase in the number, type and availability of NPS over the past five years, with 101 new substances being reported for the first time to the EU Early Warning System in 2014. Synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones are the largest groups of NPS monitored by the EMCDDA, reflecting the demand for cannabis and stimulants in Europe.4

It is unclear if the large numbers of NPS that have emerged in recent years are displacing existing drugs under international control, or if there is diversification of the range of synthetic drugs available. A growing number of countries have been reporting a wide range of emerging NPS, in addition to worrying developments like injecting NPS. While generally there are a large number of NPS available across the globe, there are still big differences between countries and regions in terms of patterns of what is being found.1

The majority of countries and territories that reported the emergence of NPS up to December 2014 were from Europe (39), Asia (27), Africa (14), the Americas (13) and Oceania (2). They continue to expand their reach as four new countries or territories, the Cayman Islands (Americas), Montenegro (Europe), Peru (Americas) and Seychelles (Africa), reported NPS for the first time in 2014.1

How are NPS used?

Global data on the use of NPS are limited for various reasons, one of these being the large number available and the other is the variety of names, including street names, which are being used. In a lot of cases users cannot identify the substance they are using, so finding information from other sources is the only option. The information that has been coming from the early warning systems has helped to identify the use of NPS and associated health risks at an early stage.1

Legal Status of NPS

As they are not controlled under the International Drug Control Conventions, NPS legal status can vary from country to country as they try to tackle the problem they pose. Over 50 countries had implemented legal responses to control NPS, up to mid-2015. At an international level the Commission on Narcotic Drugs placed 10 NPS under international control in March 2015. These control measures have to be implemented into the national legal framework of each country.3 Producers stay in the market by rapidly developing and introducing new substances, each time they anticipate legal and regulatory controls for current substances.

What are the risks with NPS?

NPS use is often linked to health problems, including hospitalisation with sever intoxications. Synthetic cannabinoids use has also been linked to a number of unexplained suicides. There have also been a number of unexplained suicides and mephedrone like substances have been associated with fatalities.6 The EMCDDA expect that NPS will continue to throw up challenges for public health and drug policy over the next few years as they continue to appear quickly, are very readily available and have limited information on their effects and harms.4

What can I do about this as a Maritime Organisation?

Treating them like traditional drugs of abuse, in terms of continuing to discourage Crew to use them in the interim is advisable. There are some tests available for NPS; however they are limited at the moment. Alere Toxicology has been carrying out extensive research into this area of testing and will be announcing some new testing methods soon, watch this space for an update!

Further reading and content sources

  1. UNODC World Drug Report 2015
  2. UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS
  3. UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS – What are NPS?
  4. EMCDDA NPS in Europe – An Update from the EU Early Warning System, March 2015
  5. EMCDDA EU Drug Markets Report – In-Depth Analysis, 2016
  6. UNODC NPS Leaflet
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
Posted in Drug News, Drug Testing, General News, Legal Highs, Maritime Solutions | Leave a comment