New Jersey's high-profile governor Chris Christie has revealed that he underwent lap-band stomach surgery in February in an effort to slim down. “I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he tells the New York Post. “For me, this is about turning 50 [which he did last September] and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.” Inevitably, the disclosure is fueling speculation of a 2016 presidential bid. “This means he’s running for president," claims one "top political donor" quoted by the Post. "He’s showing people he can get his weight in control. It was the one thing holding him back.”
Christie, who allegedly checked in for surgery under a false name, says he's already feeling the benefits of the procedure, which involves placing a silicone tube around the top of the stomach to restrict its capacity: "A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full.” Although Christie has stopped short of identifying as a food "addict," he made some telling remarks in an interview with ABC's Nightline last year. "I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding among people regarding weight and regarding all those things that go into, to people being overweight,” he said then. “I think folks say, yeah, well he must just not be disciplined, or he must not have willpower—that kind of thing. I guess the best analogy to make is some people drink too much. Some people take drugs. Some people eat too much." He also made a comparison often used to describe the unique difficulty faced by those who compulsively overeat: "See, you can go live every day without drinking. You can live every day without taking drugs. You can’t live every day without eating.”
Suffering from anxiety can make teens more prone to abusing substances at an earlier age, new research shows. Researchers followed 195 teens, aged 14 to 18, who met the criteria for substance use disorder; they found that those with panic disorder or social anxiety had a greater chance of abusing substances at an earlier age. The most commonly used drug among the test group was pot, with 92% of participants being marijuana dependent (beginning at 13 on average), and 61% being alcohol dependent. Teens with social anxiety disorder were "significantly more likely" to smoke pot, and started using the drug at an average age of 10.6 years—2.2 years earlier than the rest of the group. In addition, 75% of alcohol-dependent teens also experienced panic disorder, which mostly set in prior to their substance abuse. "Adolescents are more likely to have social and mental disorders that make them more likely to use drugs," says Dr. Patrick Bordeaux, a child psychologist who was not involved with the study. Though the study was conducted with a limited group, the results indicate that early treatment programs for anxiety may help prevent substance abuse. "This finding surprised us," says lead researcher Alexandra Wang. "It shows we need to start earlier with prevention of drug and alcohol use and treatment of social phobia [in children]."
- California Supreme Court: Cities Can Ban Pot Stores [USA Today]
- Clinton and Kelly Declare War on Prescription Drug Abuse [NY Daily News]
- If Tanning Beds Were a Drug, They'd Be Illegal [Forbes]
- Colombia Cops: Fake Nuns Hid Cocaine Under Habits [ABC]
- Egypt: Islamist Militants Suspected in Fatally Shooting Bartender [Washington Times]
- Brooke Mueller Hospitalized for Prescription Drug Abuse [USA Today]
- Guy Who Lost $2,600 Trying To Win Kinect Gets His Money Back And More [Kotaku]
- How Jaime King Battled Heroin and Crippling Depression [Daily Mail]
Police and doctors are expressing concern about "N-Bomb," one of the many new synthetic drugs that's flooded the market in recent years and is especially popular among kids and teens. Often sold as an alternative to LSD or mescaline, the drug is potentially deadly. One 19-year old from Utah was in a medically induced coma for four days after taking the synthetic hallucinogen, which is also confusingly known as "25I," "smiles" or "NBOMe."
"All of these drugs are names for 2C-I, or psychedelic phenethylamine," Dr. Frank LoVecchio, who treated the 19-year-old patient, tells The Fix. "This group of drugs acts looks and smells a lot like amphetamines. For a little bit they were legal, because you can't just outlaw every structure. The scary thing about it is that's it's very potentially dangerous. Every couple of months someone comes up with something new, always trying to get a better high, trying to circumvent the government." He says he sees patients come in due to N-bomb "once or twice a week." Two weeks after being released from the hospital, the patient was still suffering from after-effects, like episodes of forgetfulness.
A handful of fatalities related to the drug have so far been reported. Unsurprisingly, teen users don't seem to be listening to the warnings. One user tells The Fix that the experience of NBOMe is "just disco and laughter" and that it only differs from LSD in "the headspace, mainly. You stay relatively down-to-earth." As ever, experts say that part of the problem with synthetic drugs is having no reliable way to know what they're made of or how your body will react; new variations keep appearing as chemists try to dodge new laws that ban specific ingredients. Dr. Harris Stratyner, vice president of Caron Treatment Centers, tells us that "a lot of the kids using it don't know how to control dosage. You can snort it, put it on your tongue, lick it off blotter paper...and a lot will combine it with other drugs, and with alcohol. The body cannot tolerate it and then you have suppression of cardiovascular and pulmonary function. There have been cases where kids have died." As far as what draws kids to the dangerous concoctions, he doesn't know. "What are they looking for in this 'amusement park of the mind'?" he wonders. "For the life of me as a psychologist I can't figure it out yet."
The decline in media coverage of America's meth industry doesn't mean it's not still alive and thriving. Police in Leslie County, Kentucky have busted a meth operation so big they're describing it as a "meth factory" (video below). The sheriff's deputies found more than 160 meth labs in a wooded area, with some hidden under leaves and tree branches, and others in plain site. Investigators reported that the labs varied in size, and a number of them were still active. Officials believe the operation has been going on for quite some time, given the number of labs, but no arrests have yet been made.
A Florida man who has been running a pony rental business for childrens' birthday parties turns out to be a convicted cocaine dealer and an alleged member of the ultra-violent Central American drug gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. Dilbert Coreas has been arrested and charged with illegally entering the country after he was deported in 2012 for cocaine possession and intent to sell. He had reportedly been running a children's entertainment business, “It'z a Kidz World Party Planning and Rental,” which rents out ponies for $70 and bouncy castles for $85. But he blew his cover after posting some pictures on Facebook that suggested MS-13 involvement, drawing the attention of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Gang Unit. MS-13 has been classified as a "transnational criminal organization" with a suspected 30,000 members operating in the US, across 40 states; they are known for their heavy involvement in drug and weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering and murder-for-hire plots.