Ideas for Upgrading Skills and Performance at Work

Improve Performance at WorkPoor performance at work is generally connected to lack of formal job training. According to Forbes, over 70 percent of on the job training occurs informally. While this is beneficial, more formal training ideas and opportunities are needed for improving employee’s skills and work performance levels.


I strongly believe that proper staff motivation is necessary for skills improvement. Management can encourage employees to strive for excellence and take ownership of their position. Providing opportunities for advancement will challenge employees to continue to grow and take on more responsibilities. Management can also use annual performance reviews and other formal one-on-one meetings to provide honest and constructive performance feedback. Job rotation and cross-training are some of the best ways to naturally allow employees to expand their skills.


Cross-training is one of the least utilized skill training methods at work. In many companies, management often claims that scheduling difficulties, limited budgets and lack of manpower are the reasons why cross-training is unfeasible. However, cross-training is critical to developing employee skills, reducing turnover and increasing workforce flexibility. Encourage employees to learn about different job positions. Allow them to periodically train with an experienced mentor. If there is a job opening, consider hiring a cross-trained employee. Doing so will formally recognize and reward employees who have made the effort to expand their skills.


As mentioned above, over 70 percent of training informally takes place between employees. While this is important for relationship building, I have found that it also creates certain skill problems. That is, every employee is trained differently, with sometimes radically different approaches to standard tasks and processes. Therefore, consider creating standard work procedures for every position. This will increase quality, reduce mistakes and help employees improve their performance. Work standard forms are useful for reviewing the employee’s performance and providing objective feedback to employees.

Special Projects

A great way to allow employees to explore different aspects of the company and associated job positions are through special projects. Employee goals are typically included in career development plans and performance reviews. I encourage my employees to take on self-initiated projects or assignments. For example, this could involve taking a college class to improve job skills, joining the safety committee or participating in the company’s leadership training program. Empowering employees to choose their own projects will motivate them to learn more and strive for excellence.

On-Site Training

Bringing in a third-party to educate employees is an excellent way to improve their skills and raise their performance levels. Many community colleges and private education organizations offer both hands on and online job training. Because these formal classes can be expensive, there are informal and inexpensive options. That is, consider having an experienced employee or manager create their own curriculum and class for employees. For example, have an experienced maintenance professional give a class on machine troubleshooting and preventative maintenance for machine operators. Another idea is to have the HR manager provide legal and HR training to new supervisors.

To summarize, employee skills and performance can be improved through proper motivation, cross-training and work standardization. In addition to this, special projects and on-site training will provide excellent learning opportunities.

Tips for Maximizing Time and Setting Priorities at Work

Setting Priorities at WorkMaximize your time and set priorities at work so you can stay on top of your game and make your success. Time management skills can determine your overall productivity as well as the level of stress you experience at work. Combine time management with prioritization and you will rise to the top of your field and have the career of your dreams. These practices worked for me time after time and I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for learning to set priorities.

Tips for Maximizing Time

Modern workers face unrealistic demands for their time. You can either work smarter or work longer to get your tasks done on time. Ideally, you should use your time management skills to get your job done, leaving enough time to develop your career. I have found the following tips to be useful and they can help you get control of your day:

  • Keep a log of the time you spend at work and the activities you do. After collecting data for a week, you can quickly identify activities that are either wasting your time or taking too much of your time. Eliminate unnecessary tasks and become more efficient at others.
  • Before you start work, list your objectives for the day and place them on your schedule to make sure you have time to achieve them.
  • Distractions can quickly gobble up your workday. For example, The Huffington Post reported that workers spend an average of 2.6 hours per day reading email. Control this type of distraction by scheduling a limited amount of time every day for checking voicemail and email.
  • Get enough sleep. Thanks to hectic schedules and stress, almost one-third of all workers get fewer than 6 hours of daily sleep. When you get enough rest, you work smarter and are less likely to make mistakes.

Tips for Setting Priorities

According to a survey, more than two-thirds of workers admit to wasting time during the workday. This waste costs employers in the form of lost productivity, but it also costs you in the form of poor job performance. Some of the things I’ve learned might benefit you also:

  • Identify the real purpose of your job and define what you must do to get that job done. When you do this, you can prioritize the tasks that contribute the most to your objective and avoid or delegate tasks that are outside your purview.
  • Beat procrastination by assigning the highest priority to your hardest and most undesirable tasks.
  • Focus your efforts on urgent and routine tasks that are essential to your mission. Save unimportant tasks for later, even if they seem to be urgent.
  • Use the Pareto principle: 20 percent of your work can produce 80 percent of the results you need. Prioritize tasks that will generate the most movement toward your objectives.

Use these time management and prioritization tips to begin your journey to a more productive and successful career. With enough practice, you will discover the strategies that work best for you.


Tips for Expanding Your Circle of Influence

Circle of InfluenceExpanding your circle of influence in the office or in your industry is important. Your career hinges on knowing as many people as possible, and you should not shy away from making new friends at every opportunity. There are people in your office today who may get you a better job, and there are people in your industry who will offer you new jobs based on your prior relationship. Based on some of my experiences in this area, this article explores how you may increase your circle of influence through your career.

Make New Friends Every Day

The business relationships you create every day will bring new people into your life, but you should not force business relationships to remain at the office. Make friends that you can talk shop with during parties, and meet the families of the people you know. You may end going to events with these people, and you might vacation with someone you know really well. You will meet mutual friends all the time, and your circle will grow rapidly based on just one friendship.

Make Friends Outside Your Industry

You must be willing to look outside your industry for new friends. The people you meet at the office are helps, but there are business relationships to be made outside your office. People in other industries will notice your own work, and you may end up changing industries based on a relationship you have with someone in another company.

Your friends in other industries help you learn how other businesses do their work, and you will make more mutual friends through your side relationships. You are trying to create a business circle that reaches very far. The people you talk to every day will help you make new friends, and your sphere of influence will increase exponentially.

Make Friends in the Office

You must ensure that you are friends with everyone in the office. You cannot make everyone in the office happy, but you can be friendly with everyone. The most ornery person in the corner cubicle can be your friend if you try hard enough, and you will create a persona that everyone respects. Your career depends on knowing people who can help you at all times, and the people in your own office are your best helpers.

Make Friends With Your Boss

Your sphere of influence should include your boss. Your boss may have strong boundaries, but you are free to chat with your boss about work. A boss who gets to know you is more likely to promote you, and a boss who thinks of you as a human being is more likely to let you improve your career. Striking up conversations with your boss will help open the door to more serious matters, and your career may take off with one good recommendation.

Your career cannot improve if you cannot make friends. Creating a circle of influence starts in your own office, but you may expand outside your office. Making friends around the world of business will give you a wide range of people to lean on when you are ready to take the next step in your career. In my career as founder and CEO of several drug rehab facilities, I have benefited from knowing people in a variety of occupations because drug addiction knows no boundaries, and no matter what business you are in, there will always be something you can do to help someone who needs treatment for drug addiction. Many of the influential people I am affiliated with are not in the rehabilitation business, yet they have become involved in spreading the word about addiction and its dangers, especially to our young people. So, no matter what your business is about, make friends with people outside your field. You will all benefit.

New Study Suggests Painkillers Claiming More Women’s Lives

PainkillersA professor of pain studies at a prestigious university has recently come forth and stated that women really do feel more chronic pain than men. Given this information, I am not surprised to learn that the percentage of U.S. women who have overdosed on prescription painkillers has sharply increased over the past several years. From 1999 to 2010, the proportion of deaths attributed to women overdosing on painkillers has risen sharply by 400 percent. In contrast, the rates only rose by 265 percent among men. On July 2, 2013, Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, stated that women were overdosing at rates never before seen, and new studies are showing that this trend has continued well into 2015.

Effectively Managing Pain

Since women deal with chronic pain more often than men, it’s more likely that they will be prescribed painkillers for their problems. This can result in women becoming more dependent on the drugs as a way of coping. The more often painkillers are prescribed, the more it becomes a daily habit to numb the pain with opiate painkillers. Casual use can lead to not paying attention to warning labels, which can further complicate the problem. Women experience more life-threatening consequences as the result of taking painkillers in part due to their generally lighter frames. This can result in a greater level of addiction, and the risks of taking pain medications may far outweigh the benefits for certain at-risk women.

Carefully Review Labels

While patients should talk about any concerns they have with their healthcare professional, I am deeply concerned about women who are pregnant and in danger of passing on a drug addiction to their baby. The addiction may require medical intervention early on. So, it’s important to discuss all medications with your doctor and pharmacist. Women should take control over their prescriptions and make sure to keep track of all of their prescriptions. Families should be aware of any changes in mood and temperament and be willing to get help for addicted individuals.

Conditions Treated by Painkillers

Women are also at greater risk of developing migraines. Because of this, they are more likely to be given painkillers to help alleviate symptoms. According to the CDC, women are more likely to get addicted to the painkillers quickly. The death rate for abuse is highest among women who are between the ages of 45 to 54, but all women are at risk of overdosing from painkillers. The problem is serious, and in 2010, four times the number of women died from prescription painkillers than from cocaine and heroine overdoses combined.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, I strongly urge you to not try to treat the addiction on your own. Getting appropriate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a professional setting may be necessary to stop an addictive cycle. Women should be aware that they are at a greater risk of developing a dependency on opiate painkillers, and steps should be taken to ensure that addiction doesn’t set in.

As an Entrepreneur, You Must be Passionate About Your Dream

Passionate EntrepreneurThe American Dream today is to pursue your passion and do what you love. In fact, this country was founded on dreams just like yours and built by dreamers just like you. As an entrepreneur myself, I learned that you must have knowledge of your industry, funding, good partners and the ability to wear many hats. But more than that, you must have passion – passion enough for you and everyone you talk to about your dream.

What is Passion?

According to Entrepreneur magazine, passion is what leaves you feeling energized and excited even after you’ve spent the day working your tail off.

Here is an example: Think of your least favorite job. Now imagine you just spent the last 12 hours working on that job. How do you feel? Now keep everything the same, but imagine you were working on your dream job. How do you feel? Most people report they feel a lot better in scenario number two!

Passion + Planning = Success

However, there is a reason the Wall Street Journal reports that passion alone is not enough to propel you to startup success. In fact, passion without planning can turn a great idea into a nightmare in short order.

There are two sides to planning:

– Smart risks
– Rash risks

The former helps entrepreneurs like you channel your passion in productive, business-building ways. The latter can tear down your dream before it ever achieves lift-off.

Pacing Yourself is Another Key to Passion

Some entrepreneurs get so caught up in the urgency of their own passion that they develop depression, anxiety, or dependency on alcohol or substances. They are so wrapped in up their passion they have forgotten how to come down, to relax, to rest and rejuvenate for the next leg of their journey.

In these cases, the smartest thing an entrepreneur can do is take some time out and get back on track. Even the best ideas in the world can wait if the dreamer isn’t healthy enough to make them come true.

The Benefits of Taking Some Down-Time

Entrepreneurs are independent people by nature. No one ever tells you when you launch a new dream that it may cause stress, anxiety and possibly changes to your personal life and relationships along the way. Throughout my career, I have been caught off guard at times, but by sticking to my goals and  plans have helped me avoid giving up. Sometimes, however, you simply need a break.

These are some of the major benefits of taking time out for rejuvenation:

  • Time out to check in with yourself and your loved ones.
  • An opportunity to truly rest and restore before you return to your life.
  • Sometimes you can think more clearly in different surroundings.

Most successful entrepreneurs look back and see that they had lots of help and support on the way to success. By taking help when you need it, your dream has a much better chance of coming true. It’s important that you learn, as have I, that there is a difference between passion and obsession. Once you get that cleared up, you’ll have a much better chance at making things go the way they should.

Earn a Good Reputation and Keep It to Succeed in Business

You may remember when you were small and your parents or teachers told you that reputation is something you can’t get back if you lose it. This is true throughout life. In order to be a successful business long term, you simply must do the hard work to earn a good reputation – and keep it.

How to Earn a Good Reputation

According to Harvard Business Review, one of the biggest reputation killers comes in the form of the gap between internal and external reputation. In other words, say a company’s employees think highly of the company. But customers do not.

Here, employees may deliberately ignore the signs that their reputation is starting to hurt sales.

Here are some good ways to check in with customers to manage reputation:

  • Hold polls to find out what customers want and what they think.
  • Send customer satisfaction surveys to find out how satisfied customers are.
  • Quickly own up to any errors and do whatever it takes to make it right with customers.
  • Practice transparent accounting and business practices and be open to independent audits.
  • Offer incentives and freebies to dissatisfied customers to encourage them to give you a second chance.

I have used many of the above tips to help improve the image of my company as well as improving my own image as a business person.

“Reputation Management” as a Business Practice calls the business of monitoring and managing reputation “reputation management.” There are some key things you can do to manage your own reputation before others begin to manage it for you (such as angry customers or envious competitors).

Here are 4 tips to manage reputation:

  • Claim your social media identity and use it to promote your brand and mission.
  • Stay active online and offline and encourage dialogue.
  • Monitor what is posted on your website and elsewhere and remove unwanted content.
  • Do the right thing – online and offline.

Making sure your employees are interested in and devoted to maintaining your positive image is another way to ensure that your reputation continues to improve.

When Reputation Breaks Down in Spite of Your Efforts

Sometimes people or events seem to conspire to downgrade your reputation or your company’s reputation no matter how diligent you are. I’ve learned that in today’s world, there are many people who won’t hesitate to try to discredit someone.  When this occurs (and it has happened to some of the best and brightest of our times) it can cause stress, anxiety, depression and even the start of dependency on alcohol and substances.

The truth is, dealing with a damaged reputation is really, really hard! Even if you are a very centered, balanced person, sometimes you might just need a little help to get back on track. Take some business management classes or do something in the community that will help establish a favorable reputation for your company.  Be active and present in activities and promotions that are relevant to your business.  Donate your time to worthy causes.  Be the person you want others to emulate and respect and the solid reputation will take care of itself.

When It Comes to Business, Two Heads are Better Than One

In today’s world, it’s easier than ever before to use your talents to offer valuable products and services to the world. Whether you already have a business and are looking at ways to increase your profits and productivity or are just getting your feet wet, there is a valuable tip that can help you explore new horizons and succeed. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean having to go at it alone, and there are many benefits to be reaped by working with a partner.

Brainstorming Opportunities

Humans are known for coming up with ideas, acting on them, and creating success. However, we are often so consumed with what seems to be a great notion without considering the potential negative outcomes. When you choose to bring on a partner into your entrepreneurial endeavor, you can brainstorm together, point out flaws in thinking, and come up with lucrative ideas that will take your success to a whole new level.

With a supportive friend or potential business partner by your side, you have a higher chance of success as they can hold you accountable for your actions. I have learned the value of taking advice and working with others to achieve a goal, and that is why I offer these articles to hopefully pass on some of what I’ve learned.

Combination of Skills and Experience

There are many aspects involved when it comes to bringing a business idea to fruition, and having a partner by your side will add a whole new perspective. It’s a good idea to find someone who is like-minded but with a different background. For example, if you have experience in finances and your good friend was involved in marketing for a number of years, you can build ideas around the skills and knowledge each of you possess. Together, you can increase possibilities for expansion and increased profits.

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

When it comes to your business, there will be endless decisions, and making the wrong one can cost you time, money, and even your company depending on the severity of the wrong choice. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. Believe me, there are many benefits to bringing in a partner when you go into business, and, by following these tips, you can be on your way to a bright and independent financial future.

How Withdrawals Are Like a School Bully

Withdrawal symptoms act very much like the school bully when they start to attack you. Withdrawal does not produce constant discomfort, but the symptoms will keep coming back until you fight against them. This article will explore how you must fight withdrawal symptoms to make them leave you alone. The school bully only wins if you give in.

The First Signs

The first signs of withdrawal are uncomfortable, but they are not too much to bear. You must recognize when withdrawal is coming your way, and you must not ignore your symptoms. Someone who ignores a school bully will be beaten up over and over because the bully feels free to do as they please. Knowing there is a problem is the first step in recovery.

Asking for Help

You must ask for help when you realize you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Someone who attempts to deal with a school bully alone has no way of solving their problem. There is no perspective, and there is no way of stepping back to see what is really going on. Having someone help you with your withdrawal symptoms provides the perspective and analysis you need, and a mental health professional is trained to assist you with your symptoms just as a school teacher is trained to deal with school bullies.

Attacking the Problem

You must attack the problem the first chance you get. A bully will back down when you start to fight back, and withdrawal symptoms will not get any better unless you take steps to fix the problem. You must ask a mental health professional for help with withdrawal treatment. There are treatment plans out there for every withdrawal patient, and your counselor can produce a treatment plan made just for you. Your plan of attack will help get rid of the bully. Inaction will cause your problems to continue.

Consistent Action

A school bully who believes you are not as strong as you appear will return for another shot at you. Consistent behavior is required to stop withdrawal symptoms. You must follow your treatment plan for months after your symptoms subside, and you must follow the plan when your therapist asks you to. Never assume that your bully is gone for good.

Treating your withdrawal symptoms like the school bully will produce the results you need. You must ask for help, make a plan of action and follow through. Every patient that follows these steps can have more success overcoming the withdrawal symptoms that are so unpleasant, and can move on to a rehabilitation program to learn how to enjoy a drug-free lifestyle.

Why Addiction Treatment Programs Are the Key to the Future

Addiction treatment programs will change the future of our society, but we must recognize that these programs are effective. Patients struggling with addiction must go to a place that will protect them as they fight their demons. An inpatient addiction treatment program will change someone’s life, but that program must be the first step in any plan.

Why Avoiding Treatment is Problematic

There are many addiction patients who believe they can avoid a treatment facility, but they soon find that going “cold turkey” is not a reliable method for beating addiction, and specialists in the field frown on the practice. Addicts must go to a place that offers a wealth of services that are geared to addressing every aspect of the addiction.

Services Provided Make All the Difference

Addiction treatment programs provide services that many patients cannot find on their own. Treatment programs provide a safe place to live, counseling, group therapy and life skills training. Many of them offer nutritional guidance, music and art therapy, exercise and fitness routines, and much more. A treatment program changes lives more reliably because of the number of services that are provided in a respectful, compassionate manner.

Support Systems

People in treatment programs become part of larger support networks for patients. A patient who has an accountability partner likely found that partner in the treatment program. Counselors who work in treatment programs create impressive client rosters, and their clients may contact the therapist for assistance at any time.

Treatment programs often offer aftercare services to recovering addicts who are seeking outpatient guidance and support. There are group therapy sessions, meetings and workshops that will serve patients long after they have completed the program. The facility becomes a safe place for people to go when they feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Immediate Treatment

Treatment programs provide immediate treatment options for patients who are on the brink of self-destruction. A patient who is near death or close to committing suicide may go into a treatment program that will immediately help them.

Treatment programs for addiction will change the world with their immediacy, services and supportive nature. A treatment program provides patients a place where they can recover from a terrible disease. Addiction can be conquered, one addict at a time.

What are the Risks of Synthetic Pot?

Synthetic Marijuana & Emergency Room Visits

Synthetic marijuana has been sending people to emergency rooms in greater numbers. According to reports, including those from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

There were more than 28,500 ER visits linked to synthetic pot in 2011, compared to roughly 11,400 in 2010.

For teens aged 12 to 17, the number of such visits to the ER doubled, from about 3,800 in 2010 to nearly 7,600 in 2011.

For those aged 18 to 20, that number quadrupled, from about 2,000 in 2010 to over 8,000 in 2011.

Males accounted for 79% of all visits in 2011, while the number of visits by females tripled between 2010 and 2011.

A government survey showed that 11.3% of high school seniors used synthetic marijuana in 2012. To put it another way, one in every nine 12th graders tried synthetic pot in 2012 alone.

Ten Facts about Synthetic Marijuana

  1. The drug known as synthetic marijuana does not derive from the marijuana plant. The drug is created by spraying organic material with a mix of different chemicals. It is mainly consumed through smoking.
  2. Synthetic marijuana is most commonly created from a set of synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis.
  3. This mix is sprayed onto dried plant material and chopped up herbs. Because synthetic cannabis is not regulated, the chemicals used to create it may vary. The majority of chemicals used in the creation of synthetic pot are dangerous and sometimes even deadly.
  4. The drug is sold under a number of names including: K2, Spice, No More Mr. Nice Guy, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Bliss, Blaze, incense, potpourri, Skunk, and Moon Rocks.
  5. Synthetic cannabinoids have rather complex chemical names and are often designated by letters and numbers, such as JWH-018, JWH-250, RCS-4, and AM694.
  6. Often the drug is labeled “not for human consumption” in an attempt to avoid DEA & FDA oversight. This worked from 2009 (when synthetic pot showed up on DEA & FDA radar) to 2012.
  7. A 2012 law permanently placed 26 types of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones in the Schedule 1 drug category. Synthetic cathinones are stimulants that approximate the psychoactive effects of an East African plant called khat. The synthetic varieties are however much more potent than khat and can be compared to methamphetamine.
  8. The DEA lists these chemicals as illegal substances, specifically: “Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” Drugs listed under Schedule 1 include heroin, LSD, mescaline, and ecstasy (MDMA).
  9. Synthetic marijuana is often advertised as “natural” but it is anything but. It is a designer drug which has killed a number of otherwise healthy people since it became commonly used. It is also addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms when a regular user attempts to quit.
  10. The effects of synthetic cannabis are so potentially harmful that one of the chemists who originally formulated the compounds for research purposes said he couldn’t imagine why anyone would try it recreationally. He likened its use to playing Russian roulette.

Synthetic Marijuana and the Brain

The way cannabis and synthetic cannabis work in the brain is similar. They both bind to cannabinoid receptors (cell structures) located throughout the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Cannabinoid receptors process other chemicals beside THC and influence appetite and other bodily functions.

Synthetic pot is much more effective at binding to these receptors than other natural substances. The human body also does not know how to deactivate synthetic cannabis once it has started to affect and even damage the brain. Our system isn’t set up to metabolize this drug.

The inability to fully digest and get rid of the drug means it can become toxic rapidly and cause an overdose. Synthetic marijuana is not the same strength from one package to the next, so one package may seem fine to a user while the next can contain a deadly toxin.

Effects of Synthetic Pot

Synthetic cannabis has many effects upon the body and mind including:

  • A marijuana-like euphoric state
  • Agitation, anxiety
  • Dangerously low blood potassium levels
  • Vomiting
  • Tremor
  • Seizure
  • Rapid heart rate, palpitations, chest pain
  • Increased blood pressure, reduced blood supply getting to the heart
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Addictive behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Acute psychosis
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

The physical effects of synthetic cannabis are unpredictable. Symptoms can set in rapidly after use, but can also seem mild at first. They can last anywhere from one to eight hours, and can become serious or deadly during that time.

If you or someone you know has used synthetic marijuana, get yourself or the person to the hospital or call poison control right away.

Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with Synthetic Pot

There aren’t exact statistics on the number of people addicted to synthetic cannabis. However, there are withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced by individuals attempting to get off the drug. These include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Troubled sleep
  • Cravings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal ideation

It is a good idea to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility to treat withdrawal from synthetic cannabis. Such a facility will be able to minimize the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Mental symptoms such as depression, paranoia and suicidal ideation can also be managed for the safety of the patient.

Signs that Someone May be Using Synthetic Pot

No matter the age of the user, synthetic pot is extremely dangerous. It can cause violent behavior, psychosis, stroke, kidney failure and death in people who are generally calm and healthy.

In addition to all the symptoms listed above, there are a number of signs that your child or someone in your home may be using synthetic cannabis, including but not limited to:

  • Eyes glazed over, appears doped or drugged
  • Small, colorful packets labeled incense, potpourri, or not for human consumption. Many such packages have cartoon characters, logos, and use psychedelic color combinations.
  • The smell of cloves, clove cigarettes, or other burnt spices
  • Rolling papers, pipes, blunts (hollowed out cigars), lighters, matches, and other smoking paraphernalia
  • Secretive behavior, door to room locked, takes extra containers to school or work
  • Lack of personal grooming or hygiene
  • Defensive, agitated, belligerent or violent behavior
  • Disinterest in school, job, goals or other activities formerly of interest

If you suspect your child or loved one is using synthetic cannabis or any drug, be sure to bring it up right away. Make sure they feel safe talking to you and do not be judgmental. Be however thoroughly interested in their well-being and understand that anyone secretly using drugs is prone to lies and deception. Do not stop until you get to the truth.

The Pattern of Synthetic Drug Manufacture

It’s not particularly surprising that the synthetic version of marijuana is proving to be far more potent, toxic and dangerous than its natural counterpart. This is not to downplay the inherent dangers of marijuana use, such as cognitive decline, lung damage, impaired immune system, sexual dysfunction, lethargy and apathy. But even in this early stage, the synthetic varieties are already sending more and more people to emergency rooms.

A wide variety of drugs are synthesized in labs in order to approximate the molecular structure and psychoactive effects of naturally occurring compounds.

Psycho-stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamine (Adderall), and methamphetamine bear chemical similarities to compounds within the coca plant from which cocaine is made. From opium and morphine we get heroin and the range of opioids including methadone, hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin). Cathinones (“bath salts”) approximate the khat plant of Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Even aspirin was born of the analgesic properties of willow bark. It should also be noted that hydroponics and even genetic engineering is now producing cannabis crops that are far more potent and risky than anything grown even 20 years ago.

The goal in producing synthetic drugs, illicit or otherwise, is often to make a more potent version or a more easily duplicated version. The makers also succeed in making a more addictive and toxic version. While the drug makers collect the cash, the people that pay are the users and their families, and millions of them pay with their very lives.

Besides, legislation, regulation and enforcement, the solution must include rehabilitation for those already drug-dependent, and youth drug education to quell the tide of abuse that wreaks havoc upon our younger generations.

Synthetic marijuana is extremely dangerous and can be addictive. If you or someone you know uses this drug, be sure to get help right away.