Your Favorite Fix Stories of 2012 | The Fix
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Your Favorite Fix Stories of 2012

With thanks to all of you for reading The Fix this year, we present a countdown of our 10 top-trafficking articles—enlightening, moving and incendiary. Just remember: We didn't pick this list—you did!

  • 10. What You Really Don't Know About Recovery

    Think you know the ropes when it comes to addiction? Not so fast, says Maia Szalavitz, whose June "On the Contrary" column was our 10th most-read article of 2012. She argues that much of the conventional wisdom "in the rooms" is based more on myth than fact. Notions like “once an addict, always an addict” and "hitting bottom" serve many 12-steppers well by reinforcing their abstinence. But science begs to differ, says Szalavitz: these assumptions just don't hold up for most addicts. She writes that what's at stake here is the ability to develop more effective, individualized treatment—rather than a one-size-fits-all model that has failed many. As the comments below show, Fix readers just love to debate subjects like this.

    What you said:

    I respectfully submit that it was not AA that failed these people, but some of the people that failed them. The 12-step method is so 'popular' because it works for millions, worldwide.


    Home page art: Danny Jock

    Photo via

  • 9. Dumb New Myths About Marijuana

    Most myths about pot are of the "reefer madness" variety. But here Kevin Sabat, a leading anti-drug campaigner, makes a compelling case against the conclusion of a scientific study that ran in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association: that marijuana doesn’t harm the lungs, and that the benefits of occasional use outweigh the risks due to the increased lung capacity resulting from the act of toking itself—a deep breathing exercise. The science of pot rarely escapes the politics. And Sabat’s own conclusion—“To say that marijuana smoke is now good for you is both disingenuous and dangerous”—riled some of our readers.

    What you said:

    [Marijuana] works with no discernible side effects for most people. Prohibition doesn't work at all and it has many discernible side effects. Ya got blood on your hands.

    --Patriot Henry

  • 8. A Star is Reborn: Kristen Johnston's Gutsy Comeback

    This interview with with the ever-colorful Kristen Johnston provided something exceptional among recovering showbiz types: an honest discussion of an addiction to painkillers and alcohol. Instead of throwing up a PR screen and blaming “exhaustion” for her trip to rehab, she wrote a candid memoir: Guts. Many readers—some of whom found their way here after Johnston name-dropped us on Anderson Cooper's show—warmed to the refreshingly frank way she answered Joe Schrank's questions about her recovery.

    What you said:

    Just finished Guts in a day. Couldn't put it down. There was a ton I could relate to as an in-recovery Vicodin addict. Being in the early stages of helps to hear stories like this one. I think the book was honest, witty and certainly took guts. Amazing!

    --Brooklyn Chick

    Photo via

  • 7. Girls Gone Wild: Female Sex Addiction on the Web

    If you want to know how the Internet turns young girls into adult sex addicts, this account by a survivor is smart, graphic and terrifying. The writer, Emma Lee, says she was always destined to become addicted to sex, but describes how online access to the desire and attention of many men "was a combustion engine that allowed me to fall deeper and faster into addiction." By age 18, she was spending hours at her computer—masturbating, looking at porn and setting up anonymous assignations. Via Craigslist, her promiscuity escalated into extreme scenarios that threatened her job, health and life. Recovery has given her sharp insights—including that for sex addicts, relapse is never more than a click away.

    What you said:

    It is so crazy that these things are finally reaching the masses. I have felt for years that women hide their online, and extra sexual encounters...In speaking to a female friend of mine, she had hidden so much of her past, from not only herself, but her friends and family as well. 


  • 6. Does AA Really Work?

    Alcoholics Anonymous has been serving coffee and walking the Steps since it was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob in 1935. Eight decades later, AA is, in many ways, a cypher: no one knows for sure how many members it has, how many have dropped out, or even how it works (though there is much animated speculation). Investigative reporter Kevin Gray set out to unearth the real effectiveness of AA, and discovered that the answer is as baffling as alcoholism itself: “The truth is,” he writes, “nobody really knows.” He goes on to quote Dr. David Sack as saying, “AA’s view is, ‘it’s not our problem if you think it works or not, because we are here to help and support each other.’”

    What you said:

    AA has never presented itself as a therapy, but as a "spiritual program." So, how "effective" is Christianity? How "effective" is meditation? I suspect that if pews and cushions were filled with people who were there on court order or as a result of an intervention, they'd look a lot more iffy too...

    --Scott K

  • 5. Do Sexual Predators Thrive in Alcoholics Anonymous?

    This story blew the lid off a number of hotbed issues in AA—particularly how some older men prey on new female members. In the comments field below, many vented negative feelings about the program, focused on how young women could be protected, or pointed out that not all men in AA are "predatory." The writer, Lily Weinstein, says now, "I wanted to write this particular story because I wish I had read it when I first got sober. I would have ignored it, I'm sure, because I was positive that I was the most mature 17-year-old in the history of the world. But still.” As for the predators she encountered—well, “most of them have relapsed.”

    What you said:

    Some of us are legitimately there to remain sober and carry the message. Yes, there are some with ulterior motives and that's a shame. But you cannot deny the fact that AA, as a whole, has produced positive results…We're all responsible for our own recoveries. Like it says on the AA chip, "To thine own self be true." 


    Photo via

  • 4. Courtney Love Loses Rights to Kurt's Image

    This scoop from investigative reporter Carmela Kelly, published in May, revealed how Courtney Love—partly for addiction-related reasons—was obliged to hand over her late husband Kurt Cobain's image rights to their now-20-year-old daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. The former Hole singer seemingly did this in return for a seven-figure loan from her daughter's trust fund. Starkly illuminating the publicly played-out arc of a life becoming unmanageable, our story was picked up by a multitude of news outlets around the world. 

    What you said: 

    Good for Frances. I hope she makes wise decisions in regards to what her father's beliefs were about commercialism when she sells rights for his likeness...She seems like she's pretty together for a girl who had such a tumultuous upbringing.


    Photo via

  • 3. The 10 Hardest Drugs to Kick

    This fascinating and often surprising slideshow by journalist and former neuroscientist Jaqueline Detwiler was published in mid-December 2011—too late to make last year's top 10 list, which is why it qualifies for this one. Constantly pulling in hits over the past year, it proved so popular simply because it answers a question that so many people ask. We all have our experiences of how hard it is to kick certain drugs—but how do scientists rate the varying levels of difficulty involved? Which is the hardest drug to kick of 'em all? Legions of curious search engine-users found the information they wanted right here.

    What you said:

    This really broke it down, thanks—also explains why it took me longer to quit cigarettes than drinking!


  • 2. Revealed: The Original Artwork of Kurt Cobain

    Within the genre of artwork executed by troubled drug addicts, the paintings of Kurt Cobain probably wouldn’t have shown up on the radar if the heroin-addled grunge demigod hadn’t a) recorded the one of the greatest albums of all time (1991’s Nevermind), or b) committed suicide with a shotgun in Seattle a mere three years later. Nevertheless, he did accomplish those things, and the images—obtained exclusively for The Fix by investigative reporter Carmela Kelly, and drawing predictably prodigious traffic—show exactly how disturbed Cobain had become. As Cole Louison writes, “They illustrate the young genius's fascination with decay, conception, nourishment, and waste.” He also points to the sad, obvious truth: “This work comes from the troubled mind of Cobain at the height of his addiction.”

    What you said:

    These pieces of art further underscore the tragedy of a gifted life cut so short by physical and psychological anguish. 


  • 1. Junkies in the Hurricane

    This breathtaking account of a group of addicts surviving in a post-apocalyptic New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was The Fix's highest-trafficking story of 2012; in particular, vast numbers of you read it in October, while the East Coast was hunkered down against Superstorm Sandy. Images in the tale, like the abandoned pharmacy and the floating corpse, will linger in the memory. The author, Eliza Player, tells us she's "excited and honored" by her number one spot. Writing the article "served a dual purpose," she says. "First, it tells the story of the people that are not often talked about—the poor, the homeless, the addicted, and all the unnamed people who lost their lives. Secondly, telling my story was cathartic for me."

    What you said:

    I love how, in spite of the fact that the rest of the story is compelling and terrible, all I could think about as I read was the pharmacy. Then getting down to the comments let me know I wasn't alone. Insanity.

    --Nate Starling

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By The Fix staff 12/20/12

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