A key element of the NYPD's controversial "stop-and-frisk" tactic was ruled a violation of constitutional rights in Manhattan Federal Court this morning. Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered an "immediate cease" to the NYPD's "Clean Halls" program, which permits cops to stop and frisk residents of private buildings, known as "trespass stops," if they're given permission by the landlord. Clean Halls exists only in the Bronx and, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, has resulted in people being harassed by cops and sometimes even cuffed outside their own homes without legitimate cause. "While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin wrote in the ruling. As of this past July, there were 8,032 apartments enrolled in the Clean Halls program, the stated purpose of which was to improve safety in high-crime areas. "For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friend and family, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat,” wrote Scheindlin. The ruling is considered a significant victory for the many critics of stop-and-frisk, who claim the "random" stops unfairly target people of color. Of the 684,330 people stopped and interrogated by NYPD in 2011 (a 14% increase since 2010), 87% were black or Hispanic.
Ethnicity may be a factor in predicting how likely a person entering rehab for alcohol abuse is to complete the program, new research indicates. According to the study—published in the journal Health Affairs—about half of all black and Hispanic patients in publicly funded alcohol treatment programs drop out early, while 62% of white patients complete their programs. Native Americans are also less likely than whites to finish; Asian Americans, meanwhile, are more likely than whites to complete both drug and alcohol treatment. “Our findings show troubling racial disparities in the completion of alcohol and drug abuse programs, and they point specifically to socioeconomic barriers that make it difficult for minority groups to access and sustain treatment,” says study author Brendan Saloner, PhD. Significantly, in both the alcohol and drug treatment groups, black and Hispanic individuals were more likely than white patients to be homeless. “Patients living in poverty may be more likely to receive treatment in an environment with high social distress, weak social support, or few economic opportunities,” Saloner says, explaining that these factors could make it more difficult for a patient to finish the program.
Experts hope that this situation can be changed soon, but it may take longer. “Unfortunately, it’s possible that funding for treatment programs may be limited in the future as states and the federal government look for ways to trim spending on public programs,” says Saloner. “However, in the long run, these reductions in spending on treatment programs may lead to increased spending for corrections and emergency department admissions.” Researchers add that the Affordable Care Act should make it easier for minorities to receive better care, thanks to broadened Medicaid funding. And the study also suggests that residential treatment programs may reduce the disadvantages experienced by minorities: “Disparities among the groups were found to be lower in residential treatment settings," says Saloner, "indicating that access to residential treatment could be particularly valuable for these patients.”
Can you shimmy, salsa or boogie your way out of an addiction? According to trainers at Inspirees, a dance therapy institute in the Chaoyang district of China, a psychotherapeutic technique founded on dance and movement can help treat Internet and gaming addiction. The idea is to teach awareness of the body, encouraging the release of repressed emotion and tension through physical movement. It "works on the patient's inner-self rather than projecting external form," says Zhang Yi, 43, a therapist at Inspirees. Students learn breathing techniques and movements—first in silence and later accompanied by music. After a dance session, they answer questions about their feelings and form "feeling sculptures" with their bodies. Yi says the technique can help addicts break patterns of compulsive, repetitious behavior, allowing them to confront underlying emotional issues.
Dance therapy reportedly helped Xiao Wen, a 17-year-old student who was grappling with Internet addiction and compulsive gaming. He "fell into playing video games and spent most of his evenings in Internet bars," says Song, a family friend of Wen's. "He was resentful and rebellious. He did not want to cooperate and refused to talk to his parents." Song says that undergoing therapy sessions at Inspirees has improved Wen's confidence and helped him to focus on his schoolwork—although he hasn't entirely recovered from his Internet dependence, and continues to play online games. "Xiao is now busy studying and hasn't needed therapy for a while," says Song. "He still loves those video games, just not as compulsively as before." Internet and gaming addiction are pervasive problems in China, despite government attempts to regulate access to online games.
A disturbing new hashtag became the top US trend on Twitter yesterday: #cut4bieber. It involved users posting photos of bleeding arms—purportedly the result of "cutting" by disappointed fans who are looking to pressure Justin Bieber into not smoking pot again. (He was recently photographed with what appeared to be a blunt in his hand.) Some of the Twitter images show ketchup squirted onto users' wrists, while others feature razors and other sharp objects alongside cuts that appear authentic. "#cut4bieber stop smoking weed Justin and ill stop cutting myself," reads one graphic tweet, alongside an image of a cut finger. The trend was quickly revealed to have started as a hoax from 4Chan, who pulled a similar prank in October. They convinced much of the Internet that Bieber had cancer and that mass head-shavings in support of him were taking place, using the hashtag #baldforbieber. But as in the last case, some fans seem to have taken it seriously. The trend hasn't been confined to Twitter: A website was recently created that encourages fans of Bieber to cut themselves and post photos of the results until he publicly vows to give up marijuana. Many are finding the joke—if it is that—in bad taste. Bieber's fellow pop star Miley Cyrus has taken to Twitter herself to bash it: "#cut4bieber? Cutting is NOT something to joke about. There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful," she writes. In one much retweeted comment, Twitter user Ryan Higa notes: "#cut4bieber is exactly why so many people hate on jb. Its not jb himself, its the fans that act stupid like this.."
Two members of the storied Kennedy clan have been speaking candidly about their family’s struggles with addicton. Christopher Kennedy Lawford—the son of Patricia Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy—says he began using drugs and drinking aged 12. He's now 26 years sober. His new book, Recover to Live, hints at previous problems with pills and heroin. “People ask me where my addiction came from and I say I was the prodigy of an addictive perfect storm," he says. "I have the genetics. Alcoholism didn't run in my family; it galloped.” He believes that both genetics and culture contributed. “When I began my drug use at the age of 12 [in 1969] it was an entirely different culture...it was all about experimentation. We didn't know what we know today and we accepted behavior that we wouldn't accept today,” he says. “We know today that an adolescent who suffers great trauma in their adolescence who has genetic frontloading for addiction is much more, 40% more likely to develop this later in life. I had huge trauma as a kid, both my uncles were assassinated. I come from a divorce. There's a lot of stuff that I didn’t know what was going on but I was looking for medication.”
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy—the son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy—experienced active addiction much more recently; he's now two years sober. “It took me leaving my public life to finally get into long-term sobriety," he says. "Before, it was stopping and starting, stopping and starting. That's the case for most people with these illnesses.” Although Patrick and Christopher may share genetic disadvantages when it comes to addiction, the cousins say they're grateful that they had resources to help them. “One of the things that Chris and I have had access to is good treatment, but most Americans are trying to fly in the night in terms of what's understanding out there and what is good for them,” says Patrick, who has reportedly formed a lobby group to campaign against marijuana legalization. “I come from a family where when we have a hardship or we have a challenge we meet it...My Uncle Teddy would be really mad at me if I turned my back on this.”
- US Marijuana Laws Ricochet Through Latin America [TIME]
- What Alcohol Really Does to Your Sex Life [Huffington Post]
- Colorado Task Force Navigates New Pot Rules [NPR]
- New Russian Beer Law Draws Cautious Support [New York Times]
- Johnny Manziel: I Can Booze With My Mama in Texas [TMZ]
- Terrifying New Bulimia Machine Will Suck Food From Your Stomach [Jezebel]
- Sen. Rand Paul's Son Arrested, Charged With Underage Drinking [CNN]