For the athletes competing next month in the Winter Olympics, drug testing is just as year-round as their training regimen. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) requires athletes to keep them informed of their whereabouts 365 days a year in order for Doping Control Officers (DCO) to show up and administer a drug test at a moment’s notice. Naturally, that can result in some awkward locations for a pee test to be administered.
“One time they came to church,” said snowboarder Kelly Clark. Per the standard process, a female DCO chaperone accompanied Clark to the bathroom and watched as she provided a urine sample. Samples are then tested for a variety of banned substances in about an hour so long as additional blood work isn’t required. “Somebody came up to me and was like, 'Um, so there’s some people here to see you.' It was before the service had started ... it was awkward at best.”
The invasiveness of the drug testing process can be shocking for those who aren’t used to it, but plenty of Olympians have grown immune to the process. “My aunt thought it was funny that they followed me around everywhere. She kept asking for them to give me a little breathing room, but I had to explain that, no, they have to follow me around,” said hockey player Brianna Decker. “In the beginning I would make small talk with them. Now I just pretend they’re not there. I don’t want to be rude, but I’m on a schedule and I need to go on with my day."
Even when athletes are on holiday, DCO chaperones still reserve the right to come knocking at the most inconvenient times. "I was tested during the Sundance Film Festival once — that was fun,” said speed skater Allison Baver. “There was a knock on my door at 6 a.m., and everyone was like, 'What is going on right now?' They came in and sat at the table, and we’re all hanging out, shooting the shit, talking about Sundance, waiting for me to pee. Everyone is still in their pj's. I asked if I can tweet that this is happening. And they were like, 'You want to take a picture of your pee?' Apparently you’re allowed to do that, so I did. The tester was not allowed to be in the photo though."
David Cassidy is returning to rehab after being arrested on a DUI charge for the third time in the last four years. After being pulled over for an illegal turn in Los Angeles and blowing a .19, more than double the legal limit, The Partridge Family star was released on $15,000 bond after spending less than seven hours in a California jail. The officer noted that “the odor of an alcoholic beverage was emitting from the vehicle” when he first approached Cassidy.
His publicist, Jo-Ann Geffen, said Cassidy was in Los Angeles to deal with a lawsuit he filed over owed money from various Partridge Family merchandise and claimed that the stress of the case led to his DUI arrest. ”David just completed a stint in rehab and was doing very well in sobriety,” she said. "It appears as if the pressure led to a brief relapse. He was on his way to the airport to return to his home in Florida and to transitional rehabilitation. He plans now to return to rehab in an undisclosed facility.”
Cassidy's troubles with DUI in the past have been well documented. Last August, he was arrested while on vacation with his girlfriend after blowing a .10 in Schodack, NY. In February 2011, he pleaded no contest to a DUI arrest in Florida three months earlier and was sentenced to a year of probation. Cassidy also had his license suspended for six months, attended a DUI school, paid a $500 fine, and completed 50 hours of community service.
A 40 year study recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry has found that women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of their daughters becoming addicted to cigarettes later in life.
Using data from a large and long-term national project that began in 1959, lead author Dr. Laura Stroud examined the results of 1,086 mothers who had their hormone levels and smoking status recorded. Researchers then examined their children – 649 daughters and 437 sons – and discovered that the female offspring’s exposure to elevated prenatal cortisol and maternal smoking led to increased nicotine rates as adults. But with male offspring, there were no links found between elevated prenatal testosterone exposure and smoking as adults.
“Our findings highlight the particular vulnerability of daughters to long-term adverse outcomes following maternal stress and smoking during pregnancy,” said Stroud. “We don’t yet know why this is, but possible mechanisms include sex differences in stress hormone regulation in the placenta and adaptation to prenatal environmental exposures.”
Stroud went on to say: “Also, cortisol and nicotine may affect developing male and female brains differently. Furthermore, if daughters of smoking mothers are more likely to grow up nicotine dependent, the result is a dangerous cycle of intergenerational transmission of nicotine addiction.”
Smoking during pregnancy has long been known to be harmful to the health of an unborn child, resulting in birth defects such as cleft lip, being born prematurely, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome.
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On Wednesday, January 8, 2014, Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont focused his entire State of the State speech on the plague of opiate addiction ripping apart his state, detailing its cost in both lives and money while offering possible solutions.
In his address, Gov. Shumlin detailed the statistics about the heroin epidemic plaguing the Green Mountain State. Since 2000, Vermont has experienced a startling increase of more than 770 percent of people in treatment for opiate addictions with the numbers rising up to 4,300 people in 2012. On a weekly basis, more than $2 million worth of heroin and other opiates are illegally brought into Vermont and as a result, prison populations are rising with nearly 80 percent of inmates in the state being held on drug-related charges. “In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us,” he said. “The time has come for us to stop quietly averting our eyes from the growing heroin addiction in our front yards while we fear and fight treatment facilities in our backyards.”
While his approach seeks tougher laws on drug dealers, Gov. Shumlin outlined a plan that placed a heavy reliance on treatment, education, and prevention. He pointed out that incarcerating addicts for a week costs the state $1,120, while a week of treatment at a state-financed center only costs $123. With over 500 addicts presently on waiting lists, Gov. Shumlin seeks a broad expansion of the availability of treatment programs.
Shumlin‘s address also included the following initiatives:
- $200,000 dedicated right away to allow treatment centers to staff up and reduce waiting lists.
- $760,000 in 2015 to allow courts to assess offenders and determine who would best benefit from treatment rather than prison.
- A plan to determine where drug hot spots are located in the state and how local resources should be deployed.
- A statewide forum later this year to share ideas on drug abuse prevention, education, and treatment options.
“The hope is that I can use my voice to speak the truth about a challenge that threatens to undermine the best quality of life of any state in the country and proactively confront it,” he said. “It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers and too many Vermont families."
The independent documentary No Time to Think focuses on the problem of technology addiction – a concern that has, in recent years, drawn considerable attention from media outlets, scientific research and, most significantly, parents of children and young adults who use technology for social contact and education. A 2009 survey published by the Cranfield School of Management showed that more than one-third of the 11-18-year-olds interviewed for their research admitted that text shortcuts hindered their written English skills.
In an interview with the Oregonian, filmmaker Brian Huston said his interest in technology addiction was sparked by observing how many people had “checked out and [spent more time] on their devices.” Through research, Huston soon learned overuse of technology and the internet could be considered an addiction due to its negative impact upon an individual’s physical and social well-being, with weight gain, inactivity, and decreased social interaction among the many side effects. Physical and social skills are not requirements for technology use, and as Huston notes, “A young brain, and even an adolescent brain, will slough off the things it’s not using.”
As with sex and food addictions, technology is an ever-present fact of life, and therefore difficult to completely avoid. Huston’s research brought him in contact with Dr. Hilarie Cash, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the ReStart Internet and Technology Addiction Recovery Program, which attempts to break the cycle of technology addiction by re-introducing patients to the natural world without their devices while introducing new ways to regulate their time with technology. Three ReStart patients are interviewed in No Time To Think, and reveal the roots of their issues in immersive experiences with online gaming and social media. The film also cites parents as a key component in aiding individuals struggling with technology addiction by regulating both the time children and young adults spend on technology and the content viewed during those periods.