Recovery Plus 30 Feb 2016 Advances in drug and alcohol testing Drug and alcohol testing has been a part of addiction and recovery for as long as I can remember. I started working in the business in the mid-1990s, for employers. Testing was essential, in that industries needed to ensure they had alcohol- and drug-free workplaces. At the start of this millennium, I started getting involved in the addiction and recovery industry. Substance testing is an important tool in monitoring compliance and adherence to a programme, without which you’re just going to be making guesses. A lot of people say to me that they’re not really interested in looking at drug testing or that they have a pre-disposition about it because it violates privacy and fosters a negative approach to treatment. They’ll say they’ve been in the business for a long time and can tell when somebody is using. Although professionals treating patients in recovery can have a keener sense in spotting drug and alcohol use, there is no way to confirm that for external authorities without hard clinical evidence and data. What main difference have you noticed between US and UK treatment centres? In the US, drug monitoring is well accepted, with most people in recovery realising that they will have to be tested. It’s a bit more mature than in the UK, where there is a pervading issue of people feeling their privacy is being invaded. But laboratories are not trying to invade privacy or publish anything about patients that would affect their everyday life. Labs simply produce data to help plan treatment. That’s what the industry is about – it’s a data driven industry. We only put numbers out. We don’t look at who it came from, where it came from or the type of test it is. We just develop data for the counsellors and doctors to better treat patients. What is Routine Medication Monitoring? We look at working with ethical organisations round the world to help build programmes to educate medical professionals that treat addiction and do so in an economical and effective way. We don’t even call our programmes drug testing – we coined the term Routine Medication Monitoring. It is important that we look at medical necessity to treat the patient for what they might be addicted to. Testing helps medical professionals determine the problem, then prepares a way to treat it. With most diseases, your doctor would perform a battery of tests to determine if you have the disease and extent of the disease, then develop a treatment plan. Addiction needs the same consideration when diagnosing. Patients then realise that they’re going to get the best possible outcomes while maintaining their dignity. We’re trying to help people – with an overall goal of a consistent treatment protocol internationally. How have innovation & technology impacted drug/ alcohol testing and rehabs in the past decade? It has changed tremendously. When I started, there was basically only one way to do a test: with an immunoassay. This was a screening device, like an instant test cup or a tabletop analyser that would analyse a specimen and determine if a drug was present or not, but it wouldn’t specify what drug or type of drug. By the end of this presentation at Recovery Plus 2016, copresented with Stephen Valle, delegates will be able to: 1) list trends in drug and alcohol testing over the past decade 2) explain why testing is necessary for clients, doctors and services 3) list the latest testing techniques 4) identify use of benzodiazepines and other prescribed drugs in the workplace, as well as illicit drugs.
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