Pubdate: Mon, 08 Aug 2005
Source: Tucson Citizen (AZ)
Copyright: 2005 Tucson Citizen
Author: Stephanie Armour, USA Today
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: Original article appeared in USA Today 15 JULY 2005


A couple of hours before going to work, Scott Chubb would open a small bag 
and inhale a white, odorless, crystalline powder. The methamphetamine gave 
him a quick high. At work as a waiter at Bennigan's Grill & Tavern, dashing 
between his five tables, he felt jittery and frenetic.

For seven years he used the drug, sleeping only a few hours before his 
shifts and sometimes not at all. He lost weight and looked gaunt. Dark 
circles appeared like bruises under his eyes. A $60 bag of meth had once 
lasted him all weekend; now it was gone in hours.

Then, in January 2004, he abruptly asked a co-worker to take over his shift.

"I needed to leave," says Chubb, 31, a model, aspiring actor and waiter in 
Chicago who is in several recovery programs at once. "I needed to find 
help. I was living a double life. I quit cold turkey that day. I stopped 
using drugs, but it wasn't easy."

Methamphetamine, also known as speed, meth and chalk, is a fast-growing 
illegal stimulant that has been tried by more than 12 million Americans, 
according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Its presence in the 
workplace has also soared.

The number of positive drug tests for amphetamines grew by 6 percent last 
year, on the heels of a jump of more than 44 percent in 2003, according to 
a report by Quest Diagnostics, a provider of employer drug-testing 
services. The findings are based on more than 6 million workplace drug 
tests in 2004. Meth is the most common type of amphetamine abused.

About 1.3 million people reported using meth in the previous year and 
607,000 said they had used it in the previous month, according to a 2003 
report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"(Methamphetamine) is a big issue and an area of concern from employers," 
says Barry Sample, at Quest in Lyndhurst, N.J. "You can't necessarily tell 
(if an employee is addicted). They need to feed this habit. They're going 
to have ill health effects. They're going to modify behavior to obtain the 
drugs by any means."

Meth addiction costs employers

Meth dealing and meth-related sales can also seep into the workplace. In 
June, more than 200 law enforcement agents arrested 49 people at 16 
companies associated with convenience stores. They were indicted on charges 
of knowingly selling products used to make meth.

"Drug abuse in the workplace is decreasing, but ironically, methamphetamine 
positive (drug tests) are increasing," says Mark de Bernardo, executive 
director of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace in Washington. 
"Methamphetamine can create a more violent behavior ... with anxiety and 
paranoia, and workplace violence is a major concern for employers."

Meth floods a users' brain with dopamine, which provides a pleasurable 
sensation and high amounts of energy, but over time, it takes a toll - 
triggering anxiety, breeding paranoia and causing weight loss, tooth 
grinding and tooth decay.

For many users, the drug acts first to improve job performance.

"Initially, it does increase performance and concentration, all the things 
you want in an employee," says Carol Falkowski, director of research 
communications at Hazelden, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in 
Center City, Minn. "(Users) take it to function. It has broad appeal to 
people who have too much to do and are too stressed. That's all of us."
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