• Opioid Abuse Takes A Toll On Workers And Their Employers

    Posted by: Yuki Noguchi of Health Inc.

    Three decades ago, the treatment Michele Zumwalt received for severe headaches involved a shot of the opioid Demerol. Very quickly, Zumwalt says, she would get headaches if she didn't get her shot. Then she began having seizures, and her doctor considered stopping the medication.

    "I didn't know I was addicted, but I just knew that it was like you were going to ask me to live in a world without oxygen," she says. "It was that scary."

    Zumwalt didn't cut back. In fact, over two decades, the Sacramento, Calif., resident got an ever-increasing number of opioid prescriptions — all while working in corporate sales.

    "I could show up at Xerox and put on a presentation, and I was high on Percodan," she recalls. "I mean, fully out of it. I don't know how many I had taken, but so many that I don't remember the presentation. And do you know that people didn't know?"

    Her addiction worsened, eventually forcing her to take medical leave. Now sober for a dozen years, Zumwalt wrote a book about recovery called Ruby Shoes.

     

    Her story highlights, among other things, the many challenges employers face in dealing with prescription drug abuse.

    According to one study, prescription opioid abuse alone cost employers more than $25 billion in 2007. Other studies show people with addictions are far more likely to be sick or absent, or to use workers' compensation benefits.

    When it comes to workers' comp, opioids are frequently prescribed when pain relievers are called for. How often doctors choose opioids varies by state; an analysis found the highest rates in Arkansas and Louisiana.

    "The more professional stature you have, the less likely you are going to be forced into recovery, and the longer your addiction is likely to go on unchecked," says Patrick Krill, who directs a treatment program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that focuses on lawyers and judges. The legal profession has twice the addiction rate of the normal population, he says.

    In December, the advocacy group National Safety Council released a survey showing 4 of 5 employers in Indiana said they've confronted painkiller abuse in the workplace.

    "Many times they're showing up late to work because they can't find pills," says Dr. Don Teater, medical adviser for the council. "They're starting to have withdrawal symptoms. They know they can't work." He went from family physician in Clyde, N.C., to addiction specialist after seeing prescription opioids and heroin rip through his rural community.

    Three-quarters of his patients have lost their jobs. Some manage to hide prescription drug abuse for years, he says, but it does affect brain function and productivity.

    "They're not as sharp. They're not thinking as quickly," he says. "For people working in safety-sensitive positions, you know, driving the forklift or something, their reactions might not be as fast."

    One of the biggest problems, Teater says, is that many employers aren't testing for prescription opioids.

    "I'll be talking to 50 or 60 HR people, and I'll say, 'How many of you test for oxycodone?' And a third of the hands will go up maybe. And oftentimes I'll say, 'How many don't even know what you're testing for?' And a number of hands will go up."

    According to Quest Diagnostics, a testing firm, only 13 percent of the roughly 6.5 million workplace drug tests screen for prescription painkillers.

    Even federal government workers in public safety positions who are required to undergo periodic drug testing aren't currently tested for prescription opioids.

    "Within federal agencies we don't test, so we can't see exactly what the positivity rate would be in prescription drugs," says Ron Flegel, director of workplace programs for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "But we know from the private employers the percentage is quite high as far as people that are testing positive."

    Flegel says in coming months, new rules will include prescription painkillers in federal drug testing.

    Meanwhile, the tables have turned for Michele Zumwalt, the recovering addict. She now helps manage her husband's construction firm. "Through the years, we've seen lots of people with addictions," she says. "We can almost recognize it, you know, as employers."

    They urge the workers to get into rehab, she says, and hope they turn around.

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  • Analysts: Markets May Be Underestimating U.S. Economic Resilience

    Posted by: John Ydstie of NPR

    As the old saying goes, the stock market has predicted nine of the last five recessions. In other words, sharply falling stock markets are crying wolf about half the time.

    Dyke Messinger, who runs a small manufacturing company in Salisbury, N.C., thinks stock investors have been overreacting during this sell-off.

    "It is bizarre to me when we see what we believe is good core strength in the U.S. market," he says.

    Messinger's market is the construction industry. His company, Power Curbers, manufactures machines that contractors use to build curbs and gutters for housing developments and commercial buildings.

    "Everybody is a bit on pins and needles due to the changing world economy, but there's still pent-up demand for housing and commercial construction," he says.

    Those sectors performed weakly in the U.S. coming out of the recession but are doing much better now.

    Messinger's business is actually a good reflection of the situation many U.S. manufacturers face. He exports a lot of his machines. About 30 percent of his sales are to international customers, including oil producing countries in the Middle East. The plunge in oil prices has hurt his business; his international sales have fallen sharply. So he knows the global economy can hurt U.S. growth.

    "I know a lot of what happens in the United States depends upon what's going on in China and other countries, but if I had some spare money, I think I'd be buying U.S. stocks," Messinger says.

    He says for his company, growth in the U.S. economy will more than offset lost business abroad.

    Johnson, senior research director for global economics at IHS, points to strong U.S. job growth as evidence the domestic economy remains on track despite global weakness. And she says concerns that the U.S. is vulnerable to the slowdown in Chinese growth are overblown.

    "While it certainly is creating some turmoil in financial markets, the real economic consequences for the U.S. are limited," she says.

    For one reason, total exports represent only about one-eighth of the U.S. economy, and less than 10 percent of those exports go to China. So the vast majority of U.S. economic activity is generated inside U.S. borders.

    And Johnson sees a positive picture for this year, helped by the deep decline in oil prices. She acknowledges that plummeting oil prices hurt the U.S. economy last year, decimating energy companies and sparking huge layoffs. But, she says, 2016 will be different.

    "The U.S. is a net importer of crude oil, so the drop in prices is a substantial gain to U.S. consumers," she says.

    That's been the conventional wisdom, but some economists have begun to doubt that low oil prices are a net positive for the U.S. economy. After all, because of the shale revolution, the U.S. has become the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas. That means energy price drops have a bigger negative impact on American companies and workers than before.

    In fact, Goldman Sachs now predicts that those negatives will offset the benefit to U.S. consumers, so lower oil prices won't be a boost to the economy this year.

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  • 21-Year-Old Stock Trader Grows Multimillion-dollar Net Worth

    Posted by: Money Morning

     

    Jason Pelts from Milwaukee is not your typical stock investor. As a 21-year-old college senior, he invested his $1,500 savings account and turned it into a $1 million portfolio.

    Although Pelts' returns are astonishing, they took only about three years to occur.

    His first big trade made about $8,000 in ten minutes from a small company that sold health supplements. 

    Soon after, Pelts used his method to make $215,000 from Fannie Mae in a single day.  When asked about the secret to his success, new millionaire Pelts revealed that with certain stocks “there are patterns that are very predictable… the key is to buy them ahead of the crowd.”

    So is it possible for others to duplicate his success?

    Now a controversial Wall Street Economist has come forward with a single pattern that provides the answer.

    Keith Fitz-Gerald is a veteran of Wilshire Associates, which manages an estimated $8 trillion for over 500 institutional investors.

    Describing his discovery of this pattern, Fitz-Gerald says "You will, with 100% certainty, only buy stocks that are going up."

    In a recent presentation, Keith Fitz-Gerald explained exactly how this remarkably simple pattern works.

    It’s so easy that anyone can gain a complete understanding in about 15 minutes. 

    In fact, the pattern can be immediately applied by any investor looking to aggressively grow the value of their 401(k), IRA, or other money invested in the markets.

    With fear running high about the markets, Fitz-Gerald has been appearing virtually non-stop on Fox News and CNBC in recent weeks to address concerned investors. 

    And to ensure investors can take full advantage of this powerful pattern, Fitz-Gerald has agreed to make all of his findings available to the public. Click here for a private airing of this must-see interview.

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  • How One Man Made 100 Times His Money After Age 50

    Posted by: Rex Moore

     

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    I never thought getting old was fun (I'm over 50). 

    "Over the hill!"

    "Past your prime!"

    Those were phrases I used to think about all the time. But that all changed on May 2nd of this year.

    Suddenly, the fog had been lifted. Within a few hours, my outlook had completely changed.

    You see, I had just been in the same room as another "senior citizen" who had made 100 times his money after he blew out the candles on his 50th birthday cake.

    You may have heard of him. His name is Warren Buffett -- the billionaire investor. That's right, Buffett had less than 1% of his current fortune at the time he turned 50!

    So you can imagine how excited I was to find myself in the same room as Warren Buffett himself in early May 2015. 

    Buffett fielded questions from those in the room for nearly 6 hours!

    The catch was: I wasn't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video.

    I tried to write down every single word Buffett uttered. Over 10,000 words! My hand ached.

    But boy was I glad I did! Buffett shared his master strategies that older Americans can use to build wealth later in life. Even if they need to catch up. And even if Wall Street gets clobbered again.

    This was one of the most important things that ever happened to me. That's why I want to share those strategies and tips with you today -- so you can learn exactly how Buffett made 100 times his money later in life.

    I’ve gathered everything I discovered from Buffett, distilled it down to 11 simple steps, and put it in the exclusive, free report you can find below.

    It’s free to you.

     

     

    Millions of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Millions more plan on relying on programs like Social Security to fund their golden years. Fortunately, there may be 11 simple steps you can take to find a better way!

    All of the details are in this brief (and free) report that shows you exactly how you could position your portfolio, just enter your email below.

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