Overweight as a child and young adult, Dave Asprey reached his highest weight at almost 300 pounds during his junior year of college. After undergoing three knee surgeries before 24 years of age, he vowed to make a change by cutting calories and exercising more.
“I worked out more than my thin friends and ate less than them, but I was still heavier. I felt like a failure,” says Asprey. “I was doing everything I was supposed to for that time and I was using up all my willpower, but wasn’t getting results. Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t that I wasn’t trying hard enough, it was that the message about how to lose weight wasn’t right,” he states.
Rather than feeling guilty or resigned about your addiction feel empowered to make changes in the environment around you, or in your own biology
Asprey started researching food, and began gaining insight on things like how fruits and carbohydrates can make you overweight, something that wasn’t well-known in the early '90s. As a result, he began a low-carb diet and cut back on gluten.
“I had a boost of energy, got a lot less angry, and I could think better. I was able to lose 50 pounds in 3 months, but the other 50 pounds weren’t going anywhere. It took multiple years of trying and experimenting to understand that even though I was cutting calories, some protein can make you fat and the wrong kind of fat can make you fat. I began to understand what different foods and ingredients do to your biology and then put them together like a jigsaw puzzle with the goal of maximizing the way I felt and minimizing inflammation throughout my body. With all that, I eventually lost another 50 pounds and began to feel good all the time,” he says.
During this time, Asprey was also advancing his career as a computer hacker in the computer security industry. At 26 years old, he worked for a company that was worth six million dollars before it went bankrupt. His concentration was in decision support systems, which is a subset of artificial intelligence.
“I literally was a computer hacker and I applied the things I used to troubleshoot problems when there was a computer security issue to my body. In that industry, you don’t know the whole picture, and you only have a few pieces to work with. This was the same thing with fixing my own health. When I was 300 pounds, my brain didn’t work, I had sinus infections every month, I had lime disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis in my knees, and I had toxic mold exposure. I decided to turn all that around and be as resilient as I could by hacking into my own biology and uncovering what controls what and how I can change things to get the results I want. Today, I feel more in charge of my own biology than I ever have.”
In 1996, Asprey started a personal website to share information about both his passion for eating well and overall health, as well as how to succeed as a high performance entrepreneur.
“I realized that in order to have a successful career I needed to feel good. Some of the diets I had done contributed to me having major brain fog, so I started taking brain drugs to support brain function. I ended up putting together a plan for feeling good and having the ability to do things that used to take a lot effort,” he says.
So began Asprey’s development of being “Bulletproof” what he describes as the state of high performance where you take control of and improve your biochemistry, your body, and your mind so they work in unison, helping you execute at levels far beyond what you’d expect, without burning out, getting sick, or allowing stress to control your decisions.
In 2011, Asprey founded The Bulletproof Executive. Prior to founding the company and during its existence, he has spent 15 years and over $300,000 to hack his own biology from private brain EEG facilities hidden in a Canadian forest to remote monasteries in Tibet, from Silicon Valley to the Andes. Asprey used techniques to upgrade his brain by more than 20 IQ points, and lowered his biological age while learning to sleep more efficiently in less time.
The Bulletproof lifestyle consists of the following 5 steps:
1. A Bulletproof Diet
2. Sleep work
3. Smart drugs and nootropics
4. Hacking your nervous system
“Not all of these steps are necessary to make a difference, but I am a professional biohacker and I am fascinated and full of joy by seeing what my body can do. I feel better and have more energy and use my energy to help me reach my full potential,” says Asprey. “I never had this energy when I was 20. I was always tired, my brain was foggy, and I was floating in and out of paying attention, so I consider all of this a gift. How could I not experiment with all these new toys and share the results with others?”
For the past 10 years, Asprey has been sharing his Bulletproof insights with consumers of the program and as the president and chairman of the anti-aging, non-profit research and education group, Silicon Valley Health Institute.
He shared more thoughts on the Bulletproof lifestyle with the The Fix.
Do you have to do all steps of the program?
It’s not about doing all of them, all the time. There’s ones that have the most impact for me so I do those the most. There’s an amount of effort you apply and an amount of results you get. Sometimes, I have more time than others. For instance, right before our call, I had about five minutes to spare so I stood on my whole body vibration platform for five minutes since I had been sitting for an hour before that. But I don’t do that every hour or even every day. Also, I got home at 1:00 am last night from the airport so I only got five hours of sleep, rather than the normal six I usually get, so it’s not about being perfect, it’s about knowing whether the decision I make is improving, keeping me even, or moving me in the wrong direction, and then accepting that decision and doing something to counter it if I don’t like the results I got.
Smart drugs and nootropics are part of the Bulletproof lifestyle. Do you think addicts should avoid these altogether?
Addicts do not need to avoid nootropics; on the contrary, maintaining healthy levels of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine can dramatically reduce cravings. A few drugs that are addictive are sometimes included in the category of smart drugs; things like Adderall, which is a prescription form of methamphetamine are not technically smart drugs, but there is some confusion about that. Obviously, addicts would want to avoid this type of drug!
Heavy people know they’re heavy, and they’re doing everything in their power to resist it, but there’s something called willpower fatigue and it’s part of the whole decision making cycle.
Does the Bulletproof Diet work better for some people than others?
There are core guidelines that everyone can go by, but there are genetic variances. Some people need more or less fat. That’s why the Bulletproof diet is 50-70% fat and some people might need even more. That’s also why we have three categories of food on the spectrum. The best foods are the Bulletproof foods that are lowest in naturally occurring or manmade toxins and the least inflammatory and most nutritious. So most people, unless they have allergies, do really well on those foods.
Then there’s a middle category which I call “suspect foods” and those cause major problems for major chunks of people. They may or may not cause problems for you, but if you eat all of the problem foods and eliminate one of them you may never know what and what didn’t cause your problems. What you do is what a detective does. You eliminate suspects by eating only Bulletproof foods for a couple of weeks and then add the suspects back in and see which ones make you feel not so good. It’s kind of dramatic what happens.
Since it’s hard to figure out what food may have caused what reaction, we have a free app called Bulletproof Food Detective that looks at your heartrate. Your heart rate changes predictably if you eat foods that you’re sensitive to. This is like your kryptonite detector. For instance, if I ate a meal and something in that meal made my heartrate rise in a pattern that is associated with food sensitivity, I’m able to narrow down my list of suspect foods to something that was on my plate.
The last category of food is kryptonite foods that you should avoid.
Protein and fat intake seem to play a big role in the diet. Is that correct?
The idea behind the diet is that you should eat what works for you with the principles of eating lots of low-inflammation, high-quality foods and avoiding eating too much protein or dairy depending on how much you work out and how much muscle you carry, etcetera. For most people, if you eat more protein than you need, it will cause inflammation and that’s hard to get rid of. Bottom line is protein is good; too much protein is bad.
On the fat side of things, the basic principles are that you need saturated fat to function well, so some people may need more and some less, but there’s no one who should have no saturated fat. In my book, TheBulletproof Diet, I recommend the types of fat and the right ratios of fat to eat. I also suggest eating less toxins. Some people handle toxins better than others, but I recommend foods with less sprays, chemicals, and additives and also foods that have less mold toxins because of the way they’re created or stored. Mold toxins can cause DNA damage and they’re common in low-quality food. The damage is low fertility, cognitive function, among other things.
What are your views on sugar?
Sugar causes food cravings when you eat a lot of it or if you eat it at the wrong time of day. So eating sugar in the morning tends to cause the 10 am craving for a bagel, cookie, or snack. You get an energy dip, which sets you up for unstable energy all day long, whereas if you focus on fat and protein you don’t get that dip. This is why I created the Bulletproof Coffee, which fulfills you enough so that you don’t have an interest in food for several hours.
The Bulletproof diet suggests that on many days you don’t eat any sugar because you want to put yourself into the fat burning mode called ketosis. You also want to try to have a day where you eat some carbs, like a sweet potato or white rice or butternut squash, which over time do convert into glucose, yet are better than eating straight table sugar or high fructose corn syrup, which contribute to fatty liver, diabetes, feed yeast in your body, and mess with your head by pushing dopamine receptors. For your brain to focus and do all the things you’re capable of doing, we want stable energy, and sugar brings about just the opposite of that.
Do you think the Bulletproof lifestyle can help with food addiction and other addictions?
I had a client who had such bad sugar addiction that she had no food in her house. She would only go out to buy food because if she had it in her house, she would eat everything. She had a map in her office of every person who kept a jar of candy at their desk so she could go around and take a piece from different people throughout the day. She felt helpless to resist that temptation.
After she had Bulletproof coffee for the first time, she called me at the end of that day and said, “Oh my God, I went all day without eating any candy. I didn’t even want it.”
Also, I do believe in emotional eating. In fact, I’m certain I did that when I was younger. I didn’t know the happiness skills that I have now. It wasn’t the reason I was obese, but it was a contributor. Today, I am comfortable saying if you have a food craving, it’s your fault. Not because you’re a bad person, but because you did something to trigger it, like most likely something you ate earlier or something your body was exposed to. When your body is exposed to certain toxins, your liver wants to oxidize the toxins so it recruits blood sugar. For example, the other day I was using a nasty chemical with warning labels on it outside, and I got a lung full of it. Within five minutes, I had the first sugar craving that I had in three months. Why? Not because I’m a bad person or I’m addicted to sugar, but because my body was saying, “I need some energy to deal with this toxic stuff.”
If you’re eating fried foods in a restaurant where the oil has been completely damaged by high temperature for many hours, you can bet, especially if they sprayed msg on it, within an hour or two you’re going to have a food craving, and if you give in to that food craving it’s easy to say that you’re a food addict, but you’re not, you’re someone who’s biochemistry was wacked over the head and now your body is desperate for this food.
Of course there are biochemical addictions where your cell receptors are modified and you need certain things or you go into withdrawal, but when we’re talking about something like food, what’s happening is your body is saying, “I don’t have enough energy to oxidize the toxins or get rid of this bad food to deal with the blood sugar crash the msg caused. Emergency. Eat something now.” Then you can resist for only so long before you give in and say, “I’ll just eat half of it.” It’s that giving in that's at the core of what some people call addiction because they can’t not eat it. They burned their willpower to resist the craving, but if they knew the secret to not triggering the craving, they would have saved the willpower and wouldn’t feel guilty about eating the bagel.
Are you saying you don’t believe in food addiction?
No. There is a food addition that is very real that comes from the cortisol response we get from eating food that we’re allergic to. Those are the ones that often times we crave the most. It feels great to have a spike of cortisol; we always talk about cortisol as being this death hormone, which is wrong, but if you don’t have enough cortisol, you die, and if you have too much cortisol, you die. It’s a very useful hormone. But if you get a spike of it, your heart rate goes up, your energy goes up, and your brain clears, which are all good because cortisol is there to fight a tiger or run away from a tiger depending on how big you are. If it turns out that you’re allergic to gluten, dairy or protein, you are very likely to be addicted to pizza, and the reason is that every time you eat pizza or something with one of those ingredients, you are triggering a cortisol response, which makes you feel good. But then when the cortisol wears off, you’ll get the negative effects from those foods. When you eat those, you trigger the opiate receptors and feel good then once the opiate and cortisol crash comes, you say, “Give me more.” That’s when you eat a few cheese pretzels. This is a real addiction that involves an opiate response and a cortisol response, so when you stop eating these foods, you feel like crap.
Food addiction is real, and if you add emotional eating on top of that, then eating can trigger a profound biological need for more energy, which becomes addictive.
Many times when people are overweight, others think, “Well, just stop eating, and you’ll lose weight.” It seems that the Bulletproof lifestyle is showing you how to add things into your life that will help you stop eating poorly.
It helps. For instance, even if you clean up your diet, but you’re not getting quality sleep—many people sleep poorly, so even though they’re getting their necessary six or seven hours, the quality is not good—that can contribute to obesity and the inability to regulate your blood sugar well.
On the topic of perception, I find that overweight people have more willpower than thin people, yet the stereotype is that obese people are lazy. It’s quite the opposite. The obese person is having intense cravings that they’re saying “no” to as much as possible. Heavy people know they’re heavy, and they’re doing everything in their power to resist it, but there’s something called willpower fatigue and it’s part of the whole decision making cycle. So every time you decide to say “no” to that bagel in front of you, you’re using a decision and making up willpower, which we’ve proven is a finite resource.
The Bulletproof diet suggests foods you should say “yes” to so that the other foods will stop yelling at you.
Can you talk about heart rate variability, which falls under step 4?
The sympathetic nervous system is your fight or flight response to an emergency. Let’s say when you were a kid, your parents always got into fights during meal times. You are going to naturally develop a fight or flight response when you sit down to eat. This isn’t going to happen because you thought about it, but because your body felt it to keep you safe. It’s not entirely a conscious behavior. But with heart rate variability training, you can actually teach yourself to recognize when this fight or flight reaction occurs. It was a revelation for me to realize that dozens of times a day my body goes into fight or flight mode for no reason, it just does it to try to keep me safe. One of the behaviors that people pick up when they feel unsafe is to eat or numb those feelings with other substances or behaviors. If you’re unaware of those feelings, then you’re not going to know what to do. So what heart rate variability training does is it allows you to know when your heart rate fight or flight is triggered, and gives you a toolset to turn off the fight or flight response.
To learn this, you use an inner balance sensor (it’s only $99). I use the emWave2, a small device that turns green when your heart rate and breathing are synchronized (like meditation), which has a huge effect on productivity. It’s such a powerful piece of technology because it teaches you to stop reacting to things and to notice when you’re reacting so you can get back in control of your own biology.
You practice with the sensor for 10 minutes a day for six weeks. By the end of the six weeks, you’ll recognize when the fight or flight happens and you’ll learn to flip a switch in your body. I don’t have a name for this switch and I can’t label it, but what you’re doing is changing the spacing between heartbeats and moving yourself from fight or flight sympathetic mode to rest and recover sympathetic mode. You learn to do this consciously just like snapping your fingers. People who do a lot of meditation learn this over years, but a little technology can teach you how to do it quickly.
Step 5 is about neurofeedback, which involves putting EEG sensors all over the scalp, in order to monitor your brainwaves in different areas. Can you explain this?
This is about showing the brain what it’s doing because the brain is the most self-optimizing organ in the body. It’s the only organ that has no sensing apparatus of itself. There are nerves inside our other organs so they can heal, but during brain surgery we can open up your brain and poke around in there and we don’t feel anything, so the brain doesn’t know what it’s doing, or not doing, well because it doesn’t mirror or have a way to see itself.
Neurofeedback basically shows the brain what it’s doing and the brain will eventually fix itself. With some of the more advanced techniques you can actually teach the brain new skills, like you can teach it to have the same brain state as someone who has spent many years practicing meditation. You can also teach the brain to notice when it’s tuning out, which is a common problem for people who have addiction. If they’re body is stressed by something in the environment, they’ll tune out and be attracted to things that help them tune out.
Neurofeedback machines can start at $400 for ones you can use at home and go all the way up to $5,000 for clinical machines that are good for hundreds of sessions. A therapist or physician can also perform neurofeedback on you.
I have to ask about inversion therapy or hanging upside down. Is this something you practice?
Oh, yeah. I hang upside down. It’s amazing that it can help you grow new capillaries in the brain. And it’s important to get more blood flow to the brain. I train the blood flow in my brain by doing this, and I do think that my blood carries oxygen more efficiently because of it.
Did you consult with nutritionists, physicians, or other specialists when developing the Bulletproof lifestyle?
I have worked with several world class physicians, functional medicine experts, and PhDs on both improving my own health and in shaping The Bulletproof Diet and Bulletproof Coffee. Over the last few years, I've invited many of these medical experts to share their learnings on the #1 ranked iTunes podcast, Bulletproof Radio.
Any last words for Fix readers?
There’s a biological basis for your addiction and you have more control of your biology now than any human in history so rather than feeling guilty or resigned about your addiction feel empowered to make changes in the environment around you, or in your own biology, which will reduce the power of the addiction or even turn it off entirely. I really believe that is possible.
The baby daddy of Kourtney Kardashian was shown entering rehab this year during an episode run last month from Kourtney & Khloe Take the Hamptons. After one particularly rowdy night, in an episode that aired in November, Disick appeared to still be under the influence the next morning. After falling over and having difficulty forming sentences, his bodyguard has to physically pick him up and carry him to bed. Disick then asks his friend if they can take more sleeping pills together.
Kardashian had previously told him that he’s an alcoholic and wanted there to be “ground rules” related to his partying since he’s a father to their children. She was also shown earlier in the season kicking him out of their summer home. “Unless you want to be sober, then I don’t want you here,” she said. “And if you want to die, then you can continue to act this way.”
Disick entered rehab for five days, acknowledging that he had been drinking to cope with the death of his parents, both of whom had passed away within the last year. He reportedly stopped drinking cold turkey afterwards, but it remains to be seen if he can keep it up now that the couple has welcomed their third child earlier this month.
Melissa Etheridge Launches Cannabis-Infused Wines
Celebrity endorsements of marijuana products are normally reserved for rappers, but Melissa Etheridge got into the game by helping launch a line of “cannabis-infused fine wines.” Partnering with Santa Cruz-based medical marijuana dispensary Greenway Compassionate Relief, her passion project has already resulted in 90 cases of cannabis wine being available to those with a medical marijuana card. However, the creation can only be referred to as a “wine tincture” for legal reasons. Etheridge has become a staunch medical marijuana advocate after using the drug during her battle with breast cancer in 2004. Although she used it initially to help alleviate feelings of nausea during chemotherapy, she has continued to use it as a health aid ever since.
"Once I considered it medicine, I became much more interested," she said. "I've taken it into my lifestyle to keep stress levels down and my G.I. system up. It's been messed up since chemo."
Lil Za Arrested Twice In One Day
The aspiring rapper and former live-in BFF of Justin Bieber managed to be arrested twice in one day this January. Lil Za (real name: Zavier Smith) was initially arrested for drug possession after police found cocaine during a raid of Bieber's home in California, which was done in connection with a felony search warrant. Although reports later stated that the confiscated drugs were actually Molly and Xanax, police cleared Bieber of any connection to them. But Lil Za was then slammed with vandalism charges after reportedly smashing a phone inside his holding cell. His bail was increased from $20,000 to $70,000, but he posted it and was then released.
Justin Bieber Busted For DUI
His outrageous antics in the months prior made it seem like a question of when, not if, the Biebs would end up being arrested, but he received his first mugshot in Miami last January. The Canadian singer was charged with drunk-driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after being pulled over in a rented Lamborghini. Bieber was initially pulled over after being caught racing at speeds of 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, but Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez reported that the smell of alcohol wafted from his car and that he was later belligerent towards officers. After failing a roadside sobriety test, he admitted to consuming alcohol, smoking marijuana and using prescription drugs before getting behind the wheel.
Although rumors of him being addicted to marijuana and Sizzurp abounded in the following months, it appears that Bieber is trying to turn over a new leaf. He has been spotted attending Bible classes, as well as taking up tennis and cycling in an effort to spark a healthier lifestyle.
Janice Dickinson Relapses On ‘Botched’
The former supermodel and Celebrity Rehab participant appeared to visibly relapse last June during an episode of the E! series Botched. She underwent reconstructive surgery to fix "ripples" in her breasts, but appeared woozy and slurred her words when she visited Dr. Terry Dubrow for a follow-up. Dickinson alternated between tearful and combative, crying for more painkillers and then, after Dubrow told her most people were on aspirin three days after surgery, declaring she "didn't give a shit about most people." The doctor later said that Dickinson was his "most difficult patient" in his 25 years practicing and that her antics were "classic drug-seeking behavior." The former supermodel told The Fix in February 2012 that she had remained sober since her time on Celebrity Rehab and had been regularly attending meetings.
Scott Stapp’s Wife Claims His Public Meltdown Was Fueled By Drugs
The lead singer of Creed was worth $30 million after his band sold over 50 million albums in the late '90s and early 2000s, but declared in a rambling Facebook video last November that he was broke and homeless due to an IRS error. His wife, Jaclyn, declared that the once-sober rocker was now abusing amphetamines, crystal meth and steroids. His 16-year-old son Jagger also wrote on Twitter that "my father once again chose drugs over his family. He needs help, but refuses to get it. He's been on a 9 week binge." Stapp insists that he's sober, but has displayed disturbing behavior lately. He was placed on an involuntary psych hold in November and audio was leaked earlier this month of a voicemail he left to the principal of his son's school, declaring that the school would soon be the victim of an attack from ISIS. Stapp has also reportedly lost custody of his children. He told The Fix in December 2013 that he had been sober, barring sporadic relapses, for over three years.
Michael Douglas’ Son Released From Solitary Confinement
The son of actor Michael Douglas was released from solitary confinement after nearly two years. Cameron was sentenced to five years behind bars after his girlfriend smuggled him heroin while on house arrest, but an additional four and a half years was added to his sentence after he was caught smuggling drugs into prison on several occasions. Addiction experts slammed the decision to nearly double his sentence, particularly since he wasn't being offered drug treatment, but it wasn't until his father referenced him during his 2013 Emmy speech that any progress was made.
Michael declared in the speech that "if you happen to have a slip, you would get extra punishment. In my son's case, he has spent almost two years in solitary confinement...I'm questioning the system." But while Maryland's Cumberland Corrections Federal Institute didn't make it clear whether his parents would be allowed to see him, they did confirm he now has visitation rights.
Chris Brown Kicked Out Of Rehab, Sent To Jail
After years of highly public and sometimes violent outbursts, Chris Brown ended up in jail last March after being kicked out of court-ordered rehab. He was sent to rehab just weeks after being arrested in October 2013 for felony assault after getting into a fight outside of a hotel in Washington, D.C., which was a violation of his probation for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. But after refusing a drug test and leaving the facility on an unauthorized outing, among other infractions, he was booted from the rehab center. He was sentenced in May to 131 days behind bars, including time already served, but was released the following month after serving 108 days.
He later blamed his aggressive behavior on an addiction to a “hood cocktail,” otherwise known as a concoction fusing codeine cough syrup with Xanax and soda. “I was falling asleep on video sets, I was cussing people out randomly. I was doing crazy stuff,” he told New York’s Hot 97 Radio. "I was doing crazy stuff. I would wake up and be like, 'Aye, man, what time we shooting this video?' And they would be like, 'Dude, we shot it yesterday.' I'd be like, 'Damn!'"
Phil Rudd Charged With Drug Possession, Murder Plot
The AC/DC drummer was charged last November with possession of methamphetamines and cannabis, but his alleged drug use may have sparked the far more serious charge of orchestrating a murder plot. Rudd was arrested in New Zealand for allegedly plotting a murder last September and even hiring a hitman to kill two other men. A police raid of his home eventually led to finding the drugs in question. He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted on the murder plot charge, but recently slammed the accusations against him as “ludicrous” and vowed that “I’m going back to work with AC/DC, and I don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman Dies From Drug Overdose
The prolific actor and director tragically passed away in his NYC apartment on Feb. 2., 2014. Investigators found Hoffman with a syringe in his left arm and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A law enforcement source claimed he was “shooting up in the bathroom.” Police also found nearly 50 envelopes of heroin marked “Ace of Spades,” 20 used syringes in a plastic cup, several bags containing an unknown white powder and numerous prescription drugs.
Hoffman had spiraled into drug use after graduating from NYU before attending rehab at age 22 and remaining sober for 23 years. He had completed a 10-day detox in May 2013 after admitting he had been abusing pills for over a year and heroin for about a week.
Peaches Geldof Follows Mom’s Fate, Dies From Drug Overdose
Best known as a British socialite and TV presenter, Geldof died on April 6 from a heroin overdose. A police investigation found numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia in her home including nearly seven grams of heroin, burnt spoons and 79 syringes. Her one-year-old son, Phaedra, had been left with the body for 17 hours before husband Thomas Cohen arrived at the house.
Geldof’s death tragically followed that of her mother, Paula Yates, who died at age 41 from a heroin overdose in 2000. The socialite had struggled with substance abuse throughout her life and had been receiving drug treatment in the two years before she died, but Cohen told police he had observed her flushing hidden drugs down a toilet. Her final interview before her death showed Geldof revealing that she being a mother had been a “healing process” to help her “correct those awful parts of my childhood.”
Jackie Chan’s Son Arrested On Drug Charges
Jaycee Chan, 32, was arrested in August after a police raid of his Beijing home, along with Taiwanese actor Kai Ko. Chinese media reported that he tested positive for marijuana and 100 grams of pot were confiscated from his home, leading to a formal charge of Jaycee using his home as a “shelter” for others to take drugs in. His trial is expected to begin next year and he could face three years in prison if convicted on all charges. Jackie, who served as a goodwill spokesman in 2009 for the China National Anti-Drug Committee, offered a “deep bow of apology” for his son’s arrest. He said he hoped Jaycee “could become an anti-drug spokesman and tell his experiences to young people.”
Michael Phelps Busted For DUI Again, Enters Rehab
Ten years after his first DUI, Olympics gold medalist Michael Phelps was busted for drunk driving once again on Sept. 30. After being pulled over for driving 84 mph in a 40 mph zone, he failed a series of roadside sobriety tests and blew a .14, nearly double the legal limit. USA Swimming responded by suspending Phelps from competition for six months, in addition to pulling him from the Long Course World Championship Team. Phelps quickly responded and announced he would be entering rehab.
"I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself,” he wrote on Twitter. Swimming is a major part of my life, but right now I need to focus my attention on me as an individual.” He has since completed rehab and is back training for competitions next year.
Elizabeth Vargas Relapses, Re-Enters Treatment
The ABC News reporter first attended rehab in November 2013, but admitted to a relapse last August and went back into inpatient treatment. "As so many other recovering alcoholics know, overcoming the disease can be a long and incredibly difficult process," said Vargas in an emailed statement. "I feel I have let myself, my co-workers and most importantly my family down and for that I am ashamed and sorry." ABC confirmed that she was receiving treatment for alcohol addiction and said they would welcome her back “when she feels ready to return.”
Last February, Barbara Walters apologized to Vargas after declaring on an episode of The View that her alcoholism was a well-known secret in the business and that “we all knew” before she went public.
David Cassidy Busted For DUI…Again
The former Partridge Family star was busted for DUI last January, his third time since 2010. Cassidy blew nearly double the legal limit and failed roadside sobriety tests after being pulled over by a highway patrol officer. His manager chalked up his latest DUI to “pressure” stemming from legal issues, but the judge in his case was unimpressed. He ordered Cassidy to 90 days of rehab, five years of probation and a nine-month alcohol education program. The actor apologized to the court for his conduct and said he also planned to enlist the help of a sober coach. Cassidy was previously busted for DUI in August 2013 after blowing a .10 in Schodack, NY, while on vacation with his girlfriend.
From bizarre product placements to tragic deaths, The Fix looks at 15 of the most prominent celebrity drug-related stories of 2014.
As a failed screenwriter-turned-entertainment journalist, when it comes to my self-esteem, Awards Season (Golden Globes, Oscars) is my Achilles' heel. Refrains of would have, could have, should have...bang against my brain like a lead pipe.
There was a time when I was primed for the big time, when I had a deal at a movie studio and was poised for Hollywood success. My life between the ages of 24 and 27 was a feverish whirl of pitch meetings and parties and lunches with producers hungering for my next script. I rode elevators up 37 floors (tall for LA) to meet with presidents of production companies and flew to Arizona to interview major league baseball players about a script that I was being paid to write. I cashed checks for amounts larger than anything I’ve received since. Now, I write about other people's success in the 'biz. It's not bad, but it's not what I imagined my life would be.
In Al-Anon, we say that when we compare, we despair, and that’s exactly what happens.
Some of the celebrities about whom I've penned profiles are actually old friends from college who once upon a time called me up to ask for career advice when they first landed in L.A., their first-draft screenplays slipped under the door of my apartment with thank you notes paper-clipped to the title page. Fifteen years later and I’m going through their assistants to book phone interviews.
Granted none of this is anybody’s fault except my own. It was a heady combination of youth, confusion and too many –isms to mention (and not necessarily substance-abuse related ones) that derailed my nascent career in Hollywood. I was anxious, sad and on six different kinds of anti-depressants. I did things like run around parties and cry in bathrooms and steal candy from the kitchens of development executives’ office buildings. Plus, I was lousy at time management. If the producers gave me 10 weeks to complete a first-draft of a script, I took one. The remaining nine weeks I spent getting stoned, obsessing over whatever guy at the moment was hijacking my attention and taking four-hour lunch breaks with friends at the Spitfire Grill at the Santa Monica Airport.
I couldn’t believe my luck in graduating with my MFA from the number one film school in the country, signing with an agent straight away and landing my dream job, which was really not a job at all. There was never a moment that I believed I wouldn’t be rich and famous. This was who I was. I was destined for greatness.
Granted, it’s not like I haven’t achieved any sort of success in my life: I wrote and published two books, appeared on national TV and radio, am currently raising two great kids and working on a third book, plus an assortment of other writing projects, plus my full-time gig as an editor at a major trade publication. But there remains this nagging voice in my head that says: You are not enough.
Never was this feeling of inadequacy more potent than at a recent Golden Globes after-party thrown by one of the big movie studios for its nominees and winners. My assignment was to report on who showed up, who said what, but the bash was such a depressing bore—not only were there no celebs by the time I got there, but they were playing shitty techno and serving stale sushi—I spent most of the night leaning against a balcony railing overlooking the pool at the Beverly Hills Hilton, staring down at the crowd gathered inside another party, a presumed more “happening” one, to which I had not been invited. I kept apologizing to my husband, to whom I felt responsible for showing such a bad time (even if, in reality, I was the bad time and not the party), and the fact that I felt a need to apologize made me feel even worse. What was there to be sorry for?
Down below, my husband spotted one legendary movie star milling about, almost aimlessly, pulling absently on his white tuxedo scarf as he circled the room. I saw a girl from work, her shiny red dress reflected in the shimmering ripples of the pool. My husband thought he spotted an old friend from summer camp, now the creator of a hit TV show and married to a successful actress, but a harder squint confirmed that it was actually the creator of a different TV show. At this point, we had zero confirmation of who was actually there, but we seemed to be enjoying this masochistic guessing game, convincing ourselves that whatever was lacking in our own lives could be found one story below at a party with the same identical-looking hors d’oeuvres tables and cocktail napkins as the ones at the the party from which we’d just fled. For a recovering Al-Anon working in a profession where there is so much emphasis placed on the external—money, box office numbers, awards, accolades—if I didn’t have my program and its principles to guide me through it all, I would go absolutely batshit crazy.
That night was a dangerous slippery slope.
I furiously scanned the room for my millionaire movie trailer producer ex-boyfriend who I was convinced must be there with his wife, the executive vice president of creative advertising at one of the world’s most successful movie studios. I craned my neck for a glimpse of my old screenwriter mentor back in grad school. I’m absolutely certain I saw the back of Lena Dunham’s head. If you’re searching for the definition of insanity look no further than this: praying that your former therapist, who broke your heart when he abandoned his private practice and whose boyfriend (whom you occasionally stalk on Instagram) is co-president of marketing at the same studio as your ex-boyfriend’s wife, appears out of thin air onto the balcony of the Beverly Hills Hilton on Globes night so you can prove to him that you are just as cool and important as any other highly successful person in the biz. I am doing exceptionally well thank you very much! “People, places and things are not my business,” I said, rocking back and forth on my gold high heels.
“People, place and things are not my business.” I repeated the Al-Anon slogan, over and over again, like a mantra. Since I started going to Al-Anon meetings five-and-a-half years ago, the slogan has become one of the most important tenets by which I live, because when I don’t follow it—and I was obviously sorely out of practice by the time the Golden Globes rolled along this year—I start to unravel. I obsess about everybody and everything. In Al-Anon, we say that when we compare, we despair, and that’s exactly what happens. I waste hours, days employing the keen investigative skills that I have cultivated as a journalist over the past 18 years and make myself nuts scouring the Internet for the tiniest clue as to who has what and who’s doing what and who’s got what going on.
Social media and search engines become my crack cocaine. I become powerless. In the time I could have spent finishing a personal essay or proofreading the pages I promised my book agent six months ago, I obsessive compulsively perseverate on the details of a photograph I found online taken of somebody I barely know at an Oscar nominee brunch three years ago. When I make people places and things my business, like I did that night at the Beverly Hills Hilton, I basically become a pretty sick human being.
It took me about a week to recover from my Globes self-flagellation after-party hangover. I woke up the next morning with a pounding headache, shaky, and ran to my bookshelf for my "Courage to Change." I read every chapter on obsession, resentment, grief, living in the past. I called my sponsor. I went to meetings. I meditated in the car on the way to work. "People, places and things are not my business," I repeated like a song. I spent a day at the beach with my kids, left my phone and laptop at home and spent the day snapping photographs of what was in front of me, the gently lapping ocean, the muddy, sun-dappled sand, my son and daughter leaping over the waves. I focused my attention on my own writing instead of focusing on the accomplishments of others. "People, places and things are not my business," I chanted over and over and over again.
The next few weeks will prove tricky: my job requirements will necessitate me writing about film, about screenplays, about directors and actors and producers. And I will write about them, and I will complete these assignments to the best of my ability. I might even feel a sense of pride when I do them well. But I will also stay in the moment, focus on what’s right in front of me rather than what is not, and I will tape the words, "People, places and things are not my business," on the mousepad of my computer as a physical reminder of my own self-worth.
On Oscar night you can find me at home, on the couch, with my husband and kids, (hopefully) working on my next book, doing my best to quell the doubt in my head. I will order vegetarian Chinese food, maybe take a hot bath, and generally just be kind to myself if I'm feeling low. And if all else fails, there’s an Al-Anon meeting down the street that starts right as the awards kick off.