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the material girl

12/02/13 11:47am

Madonna Reunites With Now-Sober Brother


Maybe she has a heart after all...
Photo via Shutterstock

While Madonna has had public battles with her brothers in the past, she is reuniting with one of them as he celebrates his one-year sober anniversary. Now working at a rehab center in Hollywood for drug addicts, Martin Ciccone has confirmed that he and the Material Girl are on good terms again.

“She’s helping me out,” Ciccone told Daily Mail. “She’s getting me some new teeth. I’m hoping to start doing voiceover work again for cartoons and video games and get back on my feet.” He also endorsed Alcoholics Anonymous and said he uses it in his current work to help people get sober.

Ciccone struggled with alcohol addiction for decades and even repeatedly slammed his sister on his 1994 rap album, which was done under the name of MC Ciccone. Madonna later paid for him to enter rehab in 1999, but he ended up back in treatment in 2003.

Madonna has seven siblings, and her relationship with two of her other brothers has also been tumultuous. Anthony Ciccone has been homeless on the streets of Traverse City, MI, for the last three years, and was fired from the family vineyard after he repeatedly drank wine from the vats. “I never loved her in the first place. She never loved me,” said Anthony last March. “My father would be very happy if I died of hypothermia and then he wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore.” Martin called the interview “one-sided” and said he is reaching out to Anthony to help him get sober.

Madonna's other brother, Christopher Ciccone, released a scathing tell-all book about the singer in 2008; she cut ties with him afterwards, but he said last year that they are now communicating again.

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By McCarton Ackerman

opioid explosion

12/02/13 11:18am

Addicts Becoming More Frequent, Younger in Maine


Land of lobsters, lighthouses, and addiction.

What has been going on in the lovely state of Maine these days? First it was reported that a record 770 babies born in Maine so far in 2013 are addicted to drugs, and now Lincoln, ME – a sleepy town of just 5,000 people – is seeing an alarming rise in the number of addicts. And the average age has been getting younger.

While the evidence is anecdotal, police and treatment centers have seen people in their 20s and even teenagers either seeking treatment for the opiate addictions or committing crimes to get their fix. Sharon Greenleaf, assistant director at Northeast Occupational Exchange, has noticed the difference. “Before the situation was that we would see an older group of people, probably more in their late 30s and 40s,” she said. “Now we are seeing people using drugs at a much younger age, in their early, early teens, and now they are coming into treatment in their 20s and they have already had 10 or 15 years of drug use.” Greenleaf added that many of her patients are addicted to hardcore drugs like oxycodone, bath salts, and heroin.

Meanwhile, police in Lincoln and elsewhere across the state have seen a rise in violent and property crimes. The number of robberies increased by 13.8 percent, while domestic violence has risen 4.5 percent. “Drugs remain a key reason for much of the crime in Maine,” Public Safety Commissioner John E. Morris said in a press release earlier this year.

Options for the state are limited, particularly for treatment centers, which battle the state’s two-year cap on Medicaid coverage for medications used to fight opiate addiction. For recovery professionals like Greenleaf, that means doing everything possible to make treatment more available. “We have tried to make it as low-barrier and easy to enter as possible so there is nothing that gets in the way of people who want to attend it. We hope.”

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By Shawn Dwyer


12/02/13 8:30am

Congress Protests FDA’s Approval of Highly-Addictive Zohydro


FDA's approval has caused controversy
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As a founding co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts co-authored a bipartisan letter protesting the FDA’s recent approval of the highly-addictive prescription painkiller Zohydro. Signed by seven other members of Congress, the open letter was sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on November 22, 2013. Although The Fix believes this is a step in the right direction, it most likely is only the beginning of a long battle against this new and extremely dangerous legal narcotic.

Made by Zogenix, Zohydro is the first pure hydrocodone prescription drug to ever be approved by the FDA and the resulting opportunities for abuse are staggering: Zohydro can be chewed, snorted, or injected by addicts to deliver a powerful dose of hydrocodone and a high on par with heroin. Pointing out the FDA’s advisory panel’s negative recommendation of Zohydro, the letter highlights an almost visceral apprehension over this likelihood for abuse.

Lynch and his fellow members of Congress reveal a strong awareness of the prescription drug epidemic, explaining, “Substance abuse is exacting a toll on America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2010 and that prescription drugs were involved in nearly 60 percent of those deaths," they said. "The report also details that, consistent with previous years, opioid drugs, which include OxyContin and Vicodin, contributed to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths.”

Given the terrifying record of OxyContin abuse before a tamper-resistant form became available in 2010, some have expressed shock that Zohydro lacks such precautions. Although Zogenix has "started the development of an abuse deterrent formulation of Zohydro ER,” according to president Stephen Farr, such a process will not be finished and brought to market for one to three years.

In light of this pledge by Zogenix to make a tamper-resistant form of the drug, the letter asks for the FDA approval process of Zohydro to be placed in a holding pattern until the necessary safeguards can be instituted. Such a request seems to be more than reasonable given the obvious public risk. The bigger question is why the FDA approved such a dangerous narcotic in the first place and why the negative recommendation of their own expert advisory panel was ignored.

In addition to Lynch, the letter's co-signers include Harold Rogers (R-KY), Nick R. Rahall (D-WV), William R. Keating (D-MA), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), John F. Tierney (D-MA), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), and James P. McGovern (D-MA).

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By John Lavitt


12/02/13 7:00am

Morning Roundup: December 2, 2013


Off to find desert...
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By Shawn Dwyer

drug using politicians

11/29/13 4:55pm

Another Day, Another Florida Politician Busted for Drugs


Welcome to the Sunshine Narcotics State
Photo via Shutterstock

Turns out Trey Radel isn’t the only Florida politician embroiled in a drug scandal this month. Mayor Barry Layne Moore of Hampton, FL was arrested this past Monday for selling and possession of oxycodone. The 51-year-old is currently being held in a local jail in lieu of $45,000 bail. The arresting officer, Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith, made a not-so-subtle reference to infamous mayor Rob Ford by declaring that “this isn’t Toronto. We will not tolerate illegal drug activity in my jurisdiction by anyone, including our elected officials.”

Local officials have called for Moore to step down from office, but like Ford, he has shown no indication that he plans on doing so. And this isn’t the first time Moore has found himself in legal hot water. In October 2012, he was arrested and charged with battery, and two months later he was booked with a probation violation for the same crime. In 2005, he was arrested but not charged with battery, and in 2011 he had three moving traffic violations with fines totaling $1,000.

Meanwhile, his fellow Floridian Congressman Trey Radel has taken a leave of absence from the House until the end of the year and has entered drug rehab after being arrested for possession of cocaine. Radel was swept up in a federal drug sting last month after buying the drug from an undercover agent in Washington, D.C. The charge is particularly ironic because he had taken public policy stances that included asking welfare recipients to pass a drug test to make them eligible for food stamps. Like Ford and Moore, Radel has given no indication that he will step down, even though his fellow Republicans have started to call for his resignation.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Cartel Killer

11/29/13 3:00pm

Teenage Mexican Cartel Murderer Could Be Deported To U.S.


Lugo may cross over soon
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At the age of 14, Edgar "El Ponchis" Jimenez Lugo beheaded four boys in Central Mexico at the age of 14 while working for the Cartel of The South Pacific. The boys' bodies were later hung from a bridge in the town of Cuernavaca. But now that his three-year prison term in Mexico is about to come to an end on Dec. 3, Mexican authorities may end up deporting the teenage killer to the United States.

As Lugo's release date approaches, Mexican authorities have expressed concern that his release could incite violence in Mexico City, where he used to live. Graco Ramirez, governor of the Mexican state Morelos, where Lugo is being held, said that “he is an American citizen” and confirmed that “we have 13 days to see if he can be deported to the United States so that he can be placed in an institution there.”

Lugo was arrested at a Mexican airport for trying to flee authorities and fly to his mother in San Diego. Shortly thereafter, Lugo's mother was arrested on immigration violations and was deported last April.

San Diego criminal defense attorney Guadalupe Valencia said that Lugo can come to the U.S. on his own when he turns 18 in May, claiming that “the U.S. can’t do anything and Mexico can’t do anything. He wasn’t charged with conspiracy in the U.S.” The teenager said he was kidnapped by the cartel at age 11 and forced to work for them, claiming that his four executions were completed while “drugged and under threat that if I didn’t, they would kill me."

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By McCarton Ackerman


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