Reality star and former Playboy bunny Kendra Wilkinson has opened up about a severe drug addiction during her teenage years that nearly left her dead.
Wilkinson, currently competing on British reality show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! admitted to taking cocaine, crystal meth, and LSD on a regular basis. She would use lunch money from her mother to buy drugs and eventually resorted to stealing from her grandmother. A toxic cocktail of cocaine and other substances even led to a nearly fatal overdose at the age of 14.
“My drug habit was turning into a nightmare pretty quickly…I almost didn’t survive. Line after line, I just kept going. Usually, I knew my limit and stopped myself when I hit it because even though I was a druggie, I was still fearful of anything bad happening,” she told Sunday People. “I was shaking and choking on the blood that was dripping down my throat. I was in serious trouble, everyone thought I was dying.”
But despite nearly dying, her friends at the scene of the overdose abandoned her and refused to call for an ambulance. She miraculously survived and became sober shortly after. But rather than entering into treatment, Wilkinson said she stopped cold turkey and “recovered on my own. I decided I had had enough.”
She is hardly the only former Playmate to struggle with drug abuse. Jenny McCarthy revealed in her 2012 autobiography that she got hooked on Vicodin and took up to 10 pills per day, while Miss February 2006 Cassandra Lynn Hensley tragically died last January of a reported drug overdose after she was found floating in a friend’s bathtub.
Former Playboy model Brandi Brandt was sentenced to six years behind bars last August after pleading guilty four months earlier to conspiring to import drugs. She was part of a ring in 2007 that hid cocaine packages on planes flying from California to Sydney on United and Qantas Airlines, with an airline catering company collecting the packages once the plane landed.
Last month, former Playmate Krista Boseley was apprehended along with Gilles Joseph Pierre Lapointe after allegedly trying to smuggle 50,000 MDMA pills onto a private plane.
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A former Alabama sheriff’s deputy, who allegedly forced a woman to cook methamphetamine, has reached a plea agreement, which was released early November.
Grady Keith Concord, 42, agreed to plead guilty to three federal charges—one count of extortion under color of official right, one count of manufacturing methamphetamine, and one count of manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine on premises where children are present or reside—according to a U.S. Attorney’s office press release.
Concord was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine in June, when he was arrested. As part of the plea deal, Concord, who was a sheriff’s deputy with the Winston County Sheriff’s Office, agreed to surrender all law enforcement certifications and to not seek future employment in law enforcement or custodial oversight.
“We were informed of his criminal behavior, we investigated, and we made an arrest. This is something we do daily,” Sheriff Rick Harris said in June. “There is nothing easy about policing your own employees. You just want to see them in a better view, but sometimes they fail you and themselves.”
In July 2013, Concord allegedly forced a woman to manufacture methamphetamine for him, arranging to supply pseudoephedrine, a meth ingredient, in exchange for the finished product.
According to the press release, Concord, a meth user, obtained some of the decongestant pills, which contain pseudoephedrine, from the sheriff’s office evidence room. The woman, who lives in Nauvoo, claimed Concord threatened to arrest her if she did not cook the methamphetamine. Concord denied this, but conceded that she might have felt that she “had no choice but to accept his offer” because he was a sheriff’s deputy.
Since his arrest in June and being fired from the sheriff’s department, Concord has remained in jail with bond set at $500,000.
Awaiting his sentence, Concord could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for extortion, 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for manufacturing methamphetamine, and 20 years and a $2 million fine for manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a minor.
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center are conducting a series of tests to determine if factors involved in the developing brains of teenagers may indicate whether or not they will be at risk for alcohol dependency.
The experiments, which are part of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Adolescent Development Study, involved 135 pre-teen and teenaged boys and girls with an average age of 12.6 years. All participants were given structural and functional MRIs, as well as questionnaires and several neurocognitive function tests. Two of the tests, the Continuous Performance Task (CPT), which examines issues of impulsivity, and the Temporal Discounting Task (TD), which looks at preferences for immediate rewards over delayed rewards, were given to the test subjects while they were being scanned in the MRI.
The data was then correlated with a series of four studies to determine the impact of genetic and external factors on the test subjects. In the first study, the parents of 32 participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire that asked about their children’s emotional responses to social behavior. That information was then used by the researchers to divide the 32 participants into two groups: those at a low risk for alcohol abuse and those with a higher risk rate.
Then the participants’ MRI scans were examined for brain connectivity within the Executive Control Network (ECN) region of the brain, which includes the areas that process emotion and self-control. The researchers concluded that those participants in the higher risk group showed significantly lower ECN connectivity than those in the low risk group.
A second test used the Drug Use Screening Inventory (DUSI), which examines both drug and alcohol use and associated mental and social issues. A group of 17 participants were again divided into low and high risk groups, and then given the CPT test during an MRI to determine connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the insular cortex, which helps to process emotions. Once more, researchers found that the high risk group showed lower connectivity between the cortexes than the low risk group.
Two additional studies measured the relationship between diets with high levels of either sugar or the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA and issues of impulsivity. The TD task in the former study confirmed the hypothesis that kids with higher levels of sugar in their diets preferred immediate rewards, while those with lower levels of DHA had greater activity in the region of the brain that monitors attention to tasks.
Though greater research is required to connect all of this data to an accurate prediction of which children are at risk for alcohol dependency, study director John VanMeter, Ph.D, said, “What this study is attempting to do is identify the differences in the brains of adolescents who go on to misuse alcohol and other drugs. If we know what is different, we may be able to develop strategies that can prevent that behavior.”
A new study found that up to 90% of people who drink too much do not meet the criteria for alcoholism.
The report, based on a survey of 138,000 adults conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, concluded that alcohol abusers aren’t necessarily addicted to alcohol. The report found that nine out of 10 heavy drinkers are not alcoholics, and can therefore be more easily treated.
Lead study author Dr. Robert Brewer, who is also the leader of the alcohol program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says identifying these problem drinkers can help with administering the proper treatment.
“Many people tend to equate excessive drinking with alcohol dependence,” said Brewer. “We need to think about other strategies to address these people who are drinking too much but who are not addicted to alcohol.”
So what drives those who are not physically addicted to alcohol to drink excessively? According to Brewer, a lot of it has to do with our society, as well as the environment where people consume alcohol.
“A lot of people have been led to believe that drinking, and often drinking a large amount, is part of having a good time,” said Brewer. “What we need to do is change that environment in which people make their drinking decisions.”
Brewer points out that while drinking to excess is still a problem, it’s not quite as difficult to solve as alcoholism. One solution is to simply change the way we look at alcohol in general.
“I don’t want to minimize the fact that excessive drinking can be a difficult behavior to change even in those people who are not alcohol dependent,” said Brewer. “So many of the cues people get about drinking behavior in our society are confusing. People think drinking to get drunk is part of having a good time.”
A Seattle drug recovery school that helps teenagers earn their high school diploma has been met with opposition from parents because it’s located next to a traditional elementary school.
An online petition against the recovery school, known as Interagency Academy, has garnered hundreds of signatures. Some parents didn’t seem to understand that the students are committed to staying clean and sober, expressing fear of a very public relapse near young children or drug dealers setting up shop nearby. Other parents at John Hay Elementary, located across the street from Interagency, were upset about not being notified beforehand.
"We basically had to find out about it through a blog. Recovery and elementary should not be in the same geographic region,” said Christina Economou, a parent whose child attends John Hay Elementary.
But other parents have expressed support for Interagency, with John Hay Elementary parent Lisa Reibin-Evans declaring that “if there's any school in the district at a high school level that's going to be clean and sober, it's going to be a program like Interagency's." The staff at John Hay Elementary also released a position letter to "send a clear message to these youth that they are welcome, accepted and wanted."
Recovery centers and rehabs located near schools have long been a source of controversy across the country. Last month, residents of Englewood, Ill., protested a group of ex-drug offenders moving into a rehab facility located near an elementary school. Parents at a local school council meeting claim that Southwood Interventions never notified them of the plan.
"All of this came to my attention by someone else and not Southwood Interventions and I have a problem with that," said Ald. Toni Foulkes. "There was no community meeting to let residents know anything and that was not right. I am not against drug treatment centers, but what sense does it make to bring people, who are trying to get off drugs, into a community with a drug problem?"
The center tried to ease parent concerns by assuring them that the offenders would wear ankle monitors at all times, but eventually scrapped plans to move them there.