Avoiding the Addiction Affliction

Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition

Many therapists, social workers, and even parents have to work around substance abusers’ denial that they are using drugs. One of the tools often used to help break through that denial is drug testing.

Kimberly Henderson discusses the PharmChek® Sweat Patch and its effectiveness as a long-term and continuous drug testing tool.

Full Transcript:


[Jaunty Guitar Music]

[00:00:11] Mike: Welcome everyone to Avoiding the Addiction Affliction, brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. Today we're gonna have a different kind of conversation; a conversation about drug testing. We're gonna talk about the many questions that I hear all the time from therapists, social workers, and parents. I'm pleased to have as my guest, Kimberly Henderson. Kimberly is the business development and sales representative for PharmChem Inc., who also has a background in child protection as well as education. So you get the whole package here. It's kind of nice. Welcome Kimberly, thanks for joining us.

[00:00:48] Kimberly: Yeah, thanks for having me. This is quite the honor.

[00:00:51] Mike: Yeah, well it's kind of nice you're in, where again?

[00:00:55] Kimberly: I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

[00:00:57] Mike: Sioux Falls, South Dakota. So when in the wintertime in [00:01:00] Wisconsin here, when it's gonna snow really bad, it snows there a day ahead of time, right?

[00:01:06] Kimberly: That's probably about right. Yeah, we're a little, I guess we're a little ahead of you.

[00:01:11] Mike: Yeah, the wind comes outta there. Well, I'll tell you, I'm excited that you did this because we try to cover as many topics as possible when we talk about this. And this is an aspect that I hear a lot, and I just did a training last week for social workers and of course, drug testing came up and I get asked by parents all the time, should I drug test my kid? How do I know for sure my kid is using drugs when they deny it, even though I think they're using, I think all their friends are using, I found it in their room, et cetera, et cetera. Well, the reason I want to talk to you is, I think everybody's familiar with urine tests, but your company has a different sort of product, right?

[00:01:51] Kimberly: We do.

[00:01:52] Mike: What is it?

[00:01:53] Kimberly: So we have the PharmChek Sweat Patch. It is a drug testing tool that offers continuous [00:02:00] monitoring and is just a little less maybe intrusive than a urine analysis. I think, I guess the best word I can come up with is dignified and it's providing a bigger window of detection. And our little joke is that, you need to think outside the cup.

I think UA has just been the go to and we're humans, you know, this is just the way we've always done it. We don't like change. So just really getting out there and educating people that there are other tools available besides the good old urine analysis.

[00:02:34] Mike: Okay, well first of all, in the first minute, thanks for giving me the title of this podcast. Think outside the cup.

[00:02:40] Kimberly: There you go.

[00:02:41] Mike: I was thinking, what am I gonna call this? And I was like, that is great, that is really good.

[00:02:45] Kimberly: I can't take credit for that, but we get used to the way things are and it's 2022. I just don't think we should be collecting urine.

[00:02:54] Mike: I chuckled because we'll get into the collecting urine part in a little while - hey listeners, that's [00:03:00] something you wanna stay tuned for - but talk about how the Sweat Patch is administered on somebody. You know, a lot of people listening, this will be court ordered or through drug treatment or whatever. But how is it administered? I know how urine screen is administered, so how is it a Sweat Patch administered?

[00:03:17] Kimberly: So, one beautiful thing is, is that it's super simple. It looks like a bandage. I have one I can show you right here. It's very simple. It's very easy for programs, or businesses, or agencies to implement, and we're the sole manufacturer. So I work directly with those social workers, or I might work with a monitoring agency that they contract with, or a lab that they contract with, counselors. So it kind of runs the gamut. So it's very easy to be trained to apply and remove. We have an online certification that takes about 45 minutes, and then I also do a little more training in depth with that, but it's truly just applying that properly and then there, you know, that [00:04:00] includes cleaning it before you apply it, making sure that area's nice and clean, getting a good application. And then some people, it depends on the person, Mike, how long they can wear it. Some people can wear it for seven days. Some people can wear it for ten, and once in a while, you'll get somebody who can wear it for fourteen if they have maybe dry skin or they have a sedentary position where they aren't maybe out in the humidity or something. So it really depends on the individual. So it's important that when it is applied for that first time that you get that seven day baseline. But if you think about it, even that seven day is such a bigger picture of what's going on versus the urine analysis that we've talked about, or even the oral samples, because they provide you a snapshot. They're giving you a little two to three day window where the Sweat Patch is giving you a much bigger window. And just to even point this out, at the time of application, it's actually going to [00:05:00] detect 24 to 48 hours before application because it's transdermal. So it's taking that long for that to work through the system.

[00:05:09] Mike: You know, this is an audio podcast and for those of you who are listening, what Kimberly just showed me I think a lot of us have had. If you ever have had minor surgery where they do a couple of sutures and they put a big bandage over with like an inch and a half or two inch adhesive strip all the way around it, that's kind of what it looked like, right?

[00:05:27] Kimberly: You nailed it.

[00:05:28] Mike: So you can shower with that thing then?

[00:05:30] Kimberly: Absolutely. So it is - it's Tegaderm is the adhesive - just like you said. It's surgical adhesive. If you've ever had an IV, we all know it's very sticky, but you can shower with it, bathe, swim, exercise. We do recommend avoiding, you know, saunas, hot tubs, maybe a sweat hut, just anything that would produce a lot of heat.

[00:05:49] Mike: When I was a kid, and I've talked about this before on the podcast and other people have too, my dad drank a lot, and we lived in Arizona, and so the next day after he drank and would [00:06:00] sweat, his sweat would smell like bad bar carpet, right?

[00:06:05] Kimberly: Wow.

[00:06:06] Mike: So you're picking up just the sweat that normally occurs in every human being as we go about our day to day stuff.

[00:06:12] Kimberly: Correct. It's not the liquid workout sweat, it's insensible perspiration. It's that water vapor. And you might get somebody who says, "Well, I don't sweat," or "I sweat too much." That doesn't matter. It's that insensible perspiration. If you have a pulse and you're emitting oxygen, then your emitting that insensible perspiration.

[00:06:32] Mike: Well, I assume that after they wear it for, and I think I heard you say the first time, minimum of week, right?

[00:06:38] Kimberly: Well, up to seven days minimum is 24 hours. They have to wear it at least 24 hours. I want that piece out there. I don't know why anyone would only wear it 24 hours, I want you to get your money's worth, but they do have to wear it a minimum of 24 hours, in that seven to ten day range, and like I said, some individuals up to fourteen.

[00:06:58] Mike: And I would assume [00:07:00] that's part of your training, that somebody who knows what they're doing then has to remove it rather than self removal.

[00:07:06] Kimberly: Absolutely. So it was cleared by the FDA in 1992. This is not new technology. I like to think in my mind that 1992 was like ten years ago, but it was thirty - it was thirty! So it's been around, it's not new. And it was cleared through the FDA as for the criminal justice world, for that third party to administer and remove because it comes along with that chain of custody.

So, as a parent, I couldn't just put it on my child and take it off. I could take my child to a counselor, or one of those walk-in labs that provides our product and say, "Please put that on my child." We definitely are having conversations about how we get it in the hands of parents, but right now with the clearance that it's been set up with, it has to be put on by that third party. But that's very possible for families to utilize it.

[00:07:58] Mike: Well, and for a lot of [00:08:00] programs, especially I'm thinking people who have to do drug testing, right? I mean, it's part of their probation, or paper, whatever. It's probably up to the individual state or county or governing agency, what sort of testing that's done.

[00:08:14] Kimberly: Yeah, it really varies. It varies by state. It varies by county. It varies by just even that office. And maybe they've applied for grants and their grant has certain, you know, verbiage in it, like of what kind of testing or what type of testing they're gonna use. So making sure that they kind of have that blanketed. I really think it's up to most of those, you know, those agencies and what they want. But it varies. It really does.

[00:08:41] Mike: Okay, so for those who are listening who have to do these, the big question I think that they're gonna ask right away is, is that patch as reliable as a urine screen?

[00:08:51] Kimberly: 100%. It is. Like I said, it's been around for thirty years. Very reliable and accurate. Tons of court cases, I think maybe [00:09:00] over eighty of them I know for sure where precedent has been set and we got a shout out from retired Sandra Day O'Connor about the sweat patch, that it's accurate and reliable. We do have quite a few of the court cases listed on our website, but yes, it is accurate. It's reliable. The science is out there, the research has been done. And there's, you know, yes, we poke fun at urine. Because it's urine, okay? But at the same time, it works. It does its job. Just like oral does, just like hair does. You will never hear anyone from PharmChem putting down any other form of testing. They all do their job. They all do it a little differently, and honestly, the most beautiful thing is when an agency, whoever's doing that drug testing, has all the tools available to do their job. They have a tough job, and I'll tell you what, the Sweat Patch isn't 100% for everyone. UA isn't 100% for anyone. They all have their pros and cons, and so I think it's really great when agencies kind of [00:10:00] take that potpourri approach, and they have a stocked toolbox and they have the tools they need.

[00:10:05] Mike: Well, and you mentioned hair. When I talked to counties and whatnot, some are going to that, but it's expensive.

[00:10:11] Kimberly: Yeah, it's expensive. And from my understanding, my background not being, you know, in toxicology, but from what I've learned, is that it was really designed for that chronic user. So it's got a bigger window, it's got that 90 day window. But if they're, you know, a recreational use, maybe they've used two or three times, it's probably not gonna show up on that 90 day window. That was really designed for someone who is a chronic user. But again, they all serve their purpose, but we just, we feel like we're really the only one that offers that continuous monitoring.

[00:10:45] Mike: Well, and going back to the to urine thing for me, cause this is where I knew I'd go here, every worker I've trained over the years has stories, and sometimes when I'm doing a training, we spend twenty minutes just laughing about how people have tried to scam a urine [00:11:00] screen. I mean, everybody's got 'em. I actually, a while back had a man try to put a fake appendage - and it was full of internet bought dehydrated urine.

[00:11:11] Kimberly: It's crazy.

[00:11:13] Mike: Yeah. And so the question that I know I'm gonna be asked is, can the patch, I mean, be scammed? Can you scam it?

[00:11:22] Kimberly: It's very tamper evident, and I also too, was educated on all of those different ways that UAs can be, you know, messed with. Probably the most common is diluted, you know, flushing the system. I think a lot of people come to the patch because that is an issue to do with UAs. The patch cannot be diluted or flushed. It, when I say it's tamper evidence that Tegaderm, if you've ever handled Tegaderm -

[00:11:48] Mike: Yes.

[00:11:48] Kimberly: I always make the comparison of like, it's like saran wrap times a million on steroids. Like it just folds in on itself. So that's why I say it's very evident if they've messed with it. Not to mention, it's my [00:12:00] job to make sure whoever's applying and removing it is trained properly to catch cues of that, and we walk through that tips and tricks that they can do for that. But it, it's very evident. And then also just supporting that. If they have one, send me a picture, our whole team's gonna, you know, weigh in on that. But it's just very obvious. If they come in and they have duct tape wrapped around their arm holding that patch on, cause that's part of it, they're not supposed to add or remove anything from that patch. So that's a pretty good sign that that patch has been tampered with.

[00:12:30] Mike: Well, and in most places a tampered screen is a dirty screen, so it's -

[00:12:37] Kimberly: Presumptive positive, yeah.

[00:12:39] Mike: Well, this just occurred to me, and I can't believe I'm gonna ask this, but what about hairy people?

[00:12:45] Kimberly: I love that. I'm married to a hairy person. The most common and probably the best place to put the patch is on the upper arm, kind of on the right between the shoulder and the elbow. And I'm married to one of those, you know, gorillas, but as long as you can kind of [00:13:00] see some skin through that hair, you're gonna be okay. It's probably not gonna feel real great when you take it off. I had an officer today tell me that it's like a spa treatment because you clean their arm and then they get like a hair removal process. She's like, "You just have to look at it like a spa treatment." So if they're extremely hairy on that arm, there's other locations, lower midriff, lower back are options, but most common is the arm. But that's a great question. And they should not shave because what happens when you shave? It grows back. Right? And it's usually kind of coarse and it's going to create channels in that Tegaderm, so it's really important that they don't shave before they apply.

[00:13:42] Mike: I would've assumed you would.

[00:13:43] Kimberly: Right.

[00:13:46] Mike: And how about false positives? You know, we hear all the time, "Hey, I tested positive for codeine cough medicine or heroin because I drank codeine cough medicine. Or "I just had five poppy seed muffins.," although, I don't know why anyone would eat five [00:14:00] poppy seed muffins, but -

[00:14:00] Kimberly: Okay. This is my favorite question, I'm so glad you asked it. Because I get asked that all the time when I'm at conferences or meetings; "What's your false positive rate? We don't have them. And I can tell you that false positives are an issue with screens, with the UAs or the orals when they're doing that quick response, that screen. And if it's not sent on for confirmation, it could go either way. It's in that screening level. So the beautiful thing about the Sweat Patch is that every Sweat Patch is screened, and that's the only level that you would have that come into play, but if it screens positive, it's automatically going on for confirmation, and our lab uses LCMS-MS technology, which is the platinum standard in drug testing, so when it's going through that process, the molecular makeup of each drug is unique. It's different. Only heroin looks like heroin, only cocaine looks like cocaine. They're able to differentiate [00:15:00] between the Delta-8, the Delta-9. There's just no way around it. So every day I'm answering questions from social workers and officers, and they're doing their due diligence because they have to say, "You know what? We're gonna reach out to PharmChem and we'll find out for you," and they're like, "I know I asked you this before, but..." So, it's a common, common, question, but it brings a smile to my face because they have the opportunity to have that reconfirmed. It doesn't usually come to that, but I do know if they've ever had it reconfirmed it comes exactly back the way that it was.

[00:15:31] Mike: I think that's important because there's a lot of people who will then get a positive test and they'll say, "Hey, I have a prescription for X," what you're saying is that you won't need a confirmation test to show the difference between Ritalin, and speed, or amphetamine.

[00:15:47] Kimberly: So that's another really common line of questioning is, you know, Adderall, Vyvanse, those are medications that do have amphetamines in them. So this is, I get this question probably at least once or twice a week? "Hey, [00:16:00] they have a prescription for Adderall, and they said that's why they're testing positive for methamphetamine." No it's not. That's why they're testing positive for amphetamine. So if there's methamphetamine confirmed on their result of positive methamphetamine, their body ingested methamphetamine, their body processed methamphetamine. So that's another one where it just really doesn't have wiggle room with that, and so that eliminates, also then, you haven't asked this yet, but I'll mention it just like external or second hand contamination because -

[00:16:32] Mike: About a contact tie. Yeah.

[00:16:34] Kimberly: Yeah. So let's pretend - I do not, I swear to you - have a giant pile of cocaine sitting right here by me, and I take my patch and I throw it into that pile of cocaine. It goes in, it's probably gonna screen positive for cocaine because it just landed in a big pile of cocaine. But when it goes on for confirmation, no, that metabolite BE, I think that's the one for cocaine that has to be present in order for it to confirm positive. [00:17:00] And so that's proof that my body would've ingested it, processed it, not just from it falling in that big pile of cocaine.

[00:17:06] Mike: I'm not testing as positive for weed if I walk through a party where there are smoke and dope.

[00:17:11] Kimberly: Correct. That Tegaderm is, you know, protecting from that external contamination. We're testing for that parent drug, we're testing for that metabolite showing that your body ingested it and processed it. So, lots of questions come up. I mean, I have heard some crazy excuses. I think one that kind of made me chuckle was they had gotten a haircut and the hair clippers had meth on them that had to be why they tested positive for meth. So they're all over the map. But that is not the case with the Sweat Patch. If you get a positive with the Sweat Patch it has been confirmed. It has gone through the LCMS- MS testing, and it's just the way it is. It's kinda one of those, like, "Because I said so" moments.

[00:17:51] Mike: I would've appreciated this at one of my jobs where I was in a clinic and I worked with three female counselors, so [00:18:00] it was the four of us and we had to drug test our clientele. Well guess who got to sit in the bathroom and test every male on all their caseloads, right?

[00:18:11] Kimberly: Yeah.

[00:18:11] Mike: And so I spent the better part of one full day a week, you know, watching guys in the bathroom. So I kind of get the glorious part of the job.

[00:18:20] Kimberly: Mike, that's really where we want to come in because there are challenges in drug testing and you just hit a big one: gender. And a lot of times those offices are primarily female staffed and their clientele is primarily male.

[00:18:35] Mike: Yeah.

[00:18:35] Kimberly: And that presents a huge challenge for them, so it just completely levels the playing field, and then you just talked about spending an entire day doing that. When you are doing UAs, a lot of times they're being screened multiple times a week. I've had some agencies that I've I talked to, they UA somebody five days a week, they're coming in every single day for a UA. Whoa. How much time is that taking for [00:19:00] that worker and how much of like, what a pain for that person to have to try to do, if they don't have transportation or they have to leave work. So, on the worker side, it's lightening their caseload like, "Hey, we're gonna see you every seven days or every ten days" versus multiple times, and then also on that individual, because like I said, transportation - let's talk about gas prices right now, and let's talk about employment. That is a huge piece of their success. If they have housing and they have employment, they're headed in the right direction. Then you ask them to leave work multiple times a week and that can be, I couldn't do that. That would be a huge inconvenience. So just the fact that yes, this is a sanctioned drug test, you're being court ordered for it, but then at the same time, the patch can be used as a reward because you know what? You're holding down this job and we wanna make it just a little easier for you to prove your sobriety come in every ten days and we'll do this Sweat Patch.

[00:19:56] Mike: You know there are, I think you touched on this, but I wanna make sure I cover the [00:20:00] whole ball of wax. There's products available both on the internet and in some nutrition stores, and I have conversations with these folks all the time when I go in there, of chemicals that you can take that mask, there's a urine screen, rebalance your electrolytes, so you said flush system before. Would that work in this case as well?

[00:20:21] Kimberly: It will not just because of that LCMS-MS confirmation, being able to identify those in that molecular structure of the drugs. Yeah.

[00:20:29] Mike: Wow. How long does it take to get the results back?

[00:20:32] Kimberly: So our lab is located in Kansas, which happens to be right in the smacked dab middle. So it's up to that agency how they get it there. I have some customers that use the United States Postal, some that use FedEx, it's up to them. Once it hits the lab, it's a web base, so they're gonna get an email notification that their results are in. Negatives, I'm gonna tell you 24 to 48 hours. I know looking back this last year, it was about 12 hours. It's a pretty quick turnaround for those negatives, [00:21:00] and then those confirmed positives, I don't plan for the worst, hope for the best kind gal. I'm gonna tell you 48 to 72, and it might creep up towards that 72, depends on the day it hits the lab, you know, because they aren't confirming on, I believe, Sundays and Mondays currently. So you know, if it hits at the right time, and then also if it's confirming for multiple drugs, it might take a little bit longer.

[00:21:21] Mike: So who's buying this?

[00:21:22] Kimberly: Well, in my opinion, not enough people, but I'm working on that. I'm working on it.

[00:21:27] Mike: We're gonna put the information on the bottom of this podcast as though you don't know that's coming, right?

[00:21:31] Kimberly: Excellent. That's why I was in Wisconsin all last week, I got to tour in Wisconsin. I would say, You know, like I said, directly to that probation, parole, community corrections, drug courts, child protection, and then also some of those agencies will contract out to a service provider. You know, maybe a monitoring agency, a family service agency, labs, those are some of my customers where you know, they're able to walk in and [00:22:00] get a drug test, they could have it there to offer. And then I've, we have a few, and I've been working on, and this as kind of my heart, that counselors can do it. There's really no reason, because I have had so many, you know, parents say, " How do I get this?" And they could, they could go to one of those labs, but I think sometimes we just don't know those places exist if we've never, you know, had to be drug tested or we just don't know about them in our community. So if you're working with a counselor, there's really no reason that that counselor, couldn't be a provider of the sweat patch. Like I said, it's very easy to implement. It really is just having that objective third party do the application and removal.

[00:22:36] Mike: Well, I'm also thinking, I worked with a lot of schools as well.

[00:22:39] Kimberly: Oh yeah, forgot to mention schools. Yeah.

[00:22:42] Mike: What I've noticed lately, is schools are struggling with how to go about if they suspect that a kid is using or whatever and a kid denies it and appeals it, this would be a great opportunity for a student to say, I'll show you I'm not using.

[00:22:57] Kimberly: Yeah. It's an opportunity to prove that. [00:23:00] And also, so we don't do like workplace testing, you know, pre-employment testing, but also for employers. Maybe they have an employee who has been in some trouble and they're maybe giving them a second or a third opportunity. This is an opportunity for them to provide, you know, a test for their employees and for that employee to be able to prove, like, "Listen, I know I screwed up, but I'm doing much better," and they can prove that. So lots of different avenues.

[00:23:30] Mike: That's great. Well, I'm gonna put the contact information at the bottom here, but why don't you just give it anyway and that way people who like audible stuff will be able to do it.

[00:23:38] Kimberly: Absolutely. So our website in general is just pharmchem.com and Pharm is pH, just like pharmaceutical. So it's Pharm and then Chem, just C H E M. So pharmchem.com. My email is khenderson@pharmchem.com. So you can reach any of us through the website, our contact information is on there. Feel free, we're all on LinkedIn. [00:24:00] We're pretty available.

[00:24:01] Mike: Yeah. And get more information because some of the people listening to this, I know we have judges listening to this -

[00:24:05] Kimberly: Absolutely. It's a, it's a great tool and I really appreciate you allowing me to join you.

[00:24:10] Mike: It's great. Other than going back mentally to the days where I had to spend an entire evening in a restroom with guys -

[00:24:17] Kimberly: You had some PTSD there, I'm sensing.

[00:24:19] Mike: No, there was just- I had to bite my tongue. Cause there's stories upon stories and many of them are so funny. You know, I saw a guy once grab a vile from his girlfriend in the parking lot before he came in. And so I knew I was testing him that night, right?

[00:24:36] Kimberly: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:36] Mike: And so I just had to watch, how was he gonna slip that vial of somebody else's urine into -

[00:24:42] Kimberly: If you hadn't seen him in the parking lot, would you have caught it?

[00:24:46] Mike: Yeah, I was pretty good. But, I didn't start out pretty good. See, that's the thing. I started out being overly, like a lot of people, sensitive to their privacy. And then I learned, nope, sorry, you gotta roll up your sleeves so I can see. The [00:25:00] first time I had somebody take out a nose ring, Kimberly, and drop it into their urine and start fishing around in the urine with their fingers, which most of us would never do. I looked at the person said, "Bleach, huh?" and they went, "Oh, you know about that, right?" So they were tainting the sample, and so then I had them show me their hands and, you know, someone had to be monitored. And, so you learn a little bit about how to do it, so it would be hard to scam, but people -

[00:25:27] Kimberly: I'm really happy to hear you say that, Mike, because the best practices with drug testing are observed. Observation, you know, collections, valid specimen, and the patch just checks all of those boxes because it really is important that it is observed as much as we crack jokes about it, and, it gets a little queasy, but it is important to do that.

[00:25:46] Mike: It's great. Well, thank you again, Kimberly, for joining us. And those of you who are listening know that you never know what you're gonna get here. So this is the next week listening again when we talk about more issues around substance use and abuse. And until then, please stay [00:26:00] safe and, in Kimberly's words, think outside the cup.