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breaking sad

1/03/14 1:00pm

‘Breaking Bad’ Contest Winner Busted for Drugs

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Wannabe Walter White Photo via

On New Year’s Eve, Ryan Carroll and two other men were arrested as part of a sting operation that disrupted a national synthetic marijuana distribution ring. “You knew something was up,” said neighbor Randy Hughes. “They either had a very successful business, or they were up to something they shouldn’t be. Every day, FedEx deliveries.”

The Fort Myers native was an integral part to the drug operation, and was charged with two felony counts of possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts which included a probation violation. It’s unclear what exact role Carroll played in the operation, since authorities are maintaining radio silence on what they consider to be an “investigation of significance.”

“It’s still an active investigation,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tiffany Wood. “The community is safe.”

But some details about the bust have emerged, including how Carroll and his associates packaged and distributed their product. Deputies seized more than $1 million worth of synthetic marijuana from three different locations that was mixed in a cement mixer with chemicals like Acetone before adding flavors like jungle juice and electric banana. The synthetic pot was then shipped in colorful packages through the mail across several states.

Back in September, Carroll made local news for winning an online contest that sent him to watch the Breaking Bad series finale at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery with stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, as well as show creator Vince Gilligan. “I think we’re going to be in Hazmat suits with them,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be crazy.”

The autographed Hazmat suit was seized by deputies in the bust.

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By Shawn Dwyer

recovering celebs

1/03/14 10:30am

Steven Tyler Talks to Dr. Oz About His Drug Addiction

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Photo via Shutterstock

In a recently re-aired episode of Dr. Oz from September, Aerosmith lead singer and rock icon Steven Tyler talked about his decades-long struggle with substance abuse as well as his more recent relapse into prescription drug addiction.

Tyler opened the interview with a sly quip, asking Oz “ Is it ‘Hi, how are you?’ or ‘How high are you?’,” before getting down to the serious business of talking addiction and recovery. After telling Oz that he realizes he’s been “totally addicted to adrenaline,” Tyler relayed his experience by admitting to being sober “three years this time,” an allusion to his relapse with prescription drugs in 2006 following 12 years of sobriety. Oz pressed Tyler about his past attempts at recovery by asking the rocker how many times he had been in rehab since his first attempt in 1983. “Enough times to wind up being as sober as I am right now,” Tyler said to applause. “I’m not sure it’s about a number, but it’s more about what it did. ”

Oz delved deeper into Tyler’s drug past, which included snorting mountains of cocaine and drinking heavy amounts of Jack Daniels throughout the 1970s and 1980s, which often helped the singer get through marathon shows during Aerosmith’s early days. But eventually, his drug and alcohol consumption caught up with him. “I did it so much I couldn’t stop, and then I had to ask myself and face myself to see why couldn’t I stop,” he said. “My sobriety cost me nothing less than everything. It’s serious when you lose your kids, your wife, your band, your job…and you’ll never understand why, because you’re an addict.”

Though he managed to stay sober for 12 years after a successful recovery in 1988, Tyler fell off the wagon into painkiller addiction following foot surgery, which led to him declaring doctors the new drug dealers. Three years after his relapse, Tyler checked into the Betty Ford Clinic, where he was guided to sobriety by Dr. Harry Haroutunian, himself a former patient of the clinic. “He was a challenging patient. Very giving, very warm, very affectionate, very loud,” Haroutunian said. “Sometimes he had difficulty staying inside the lines and we had to pull him back in. [But] he really dedicated himself to his recovery.”

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By Shawn Dwyer

drugs & mental illness

1/03/14 8:30am

Substance Abuse ‘Significantly Higher’ Among Mentally Ill

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Photo via Shutterstock

A new study published in the online journal JAMA Psychiatry has revealed that the rates of alcohol, drug, and tobacco abuse are “significantly higher” among those suffering from mental illness as compared to the general public.

Conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Southern California, the study claims to be the largest of its kind and analyzed the drinking, smoking, and drug taking habits of 20,000 people. That total contained 9,142 psychiatric patients diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Researchers assessed the group’s intake of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco as compared to roughly 10,000 people without mental illness and found that 75 percent of those with psychiatric problems were smokers, while 33 percent of healthy subjects used tobacco regularly. Thirty percent of those with mental illness engaged in binge drinking, while eight percent of healthy people drank heavily. For marijuana, 50 percent of mentally ill people smoked pot regularly as compared to 18 percent of the general public. And the same rate of psychiatric patients used other illicit drugs, while 12 percent of those without mental problems used such substances.

The study’s lead author, Sarah M. Hartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University, wasn’t particularly surprised with the results. “I take care of a lot of patients with severe mental illness, many of whom are sick enough that they are on disability,” she said. “And it’s always surprising when I encounter a patient who doesn’t smoke or hasn’t used drugs or had alcohol problems.” One thing that did surprise Hartz was the discovery that once a person develops a mental illness, neither race nor gender has any discernible influence on the rates of substance abuse. “We see protective effects in these subpopulations,” Hartz said. “But once a person has a severe mental illness, that seems to trump everything.”

The results of the study prompted Hartz and her fellow researchers to conclude that more can be done on the treatment side once someone has been diagnosed with a mental illness. “We can do better, but we also need to develop new strategies because many interventions to reduce smoking, drinking and drug use that have worked in other patient populations don’t seem to be very effective in these psychiatric patients,” Hartz said.

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By Shawn Dwyer

headlines

1/03/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: January 3, 2014

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Four more years!
Photo via Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer

stoned dolphins

1/02/14 7:30pm

New Film Shows Dolphins Getting High on Puffer Fish

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Don't bogart that puffer...
Photo via BBC/John Downer Productions

Turns out dolphins and humans have more in common than previously thought.

According to a forthcoming documentary called Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, young bottlenose dolphins like to pass around the puffer fish and get high off the toxins.

Scientists and filmmakers dressed up a camera as an innocuous fish and set it loose in the ocean near Mozambique to swim with the dolphins. In the 900 hours of footage shot, the crew captured dolphins spending a half hour playing with the puffer fish. "This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating," said zoologist Rob Pilley, one of the producers of the film. “After chewing the puffer gently and passing it around, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection.” Apparently, the dolphins have done this kind of thing before. “We saw the dolphins handle the puffers with kid gloves, very gently and delicately like they were almost milking them to not upset the fish too much or kill it,” Pilley said.

While the discovery has lit up the internet, there are some who have issued caution that all might not be as it appears. "Tetrodotoxin simply doesn’t make sense as a drug," said Discover Science Sushi blogger Christie Wilcox. "Every illicit drug has one thing in common: they alter minds. It’s right there in the definition of narcotic. Tetrodotoxin, however, doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier; it doesn’t change perception or enhance sensation." And if you're human, you definitely don't want to try and huff a puffer yourself; one fish holds enough toxins to kill 30 humans.

Of course, not all dolphin behavior is cute or funny. The marine mammal has shocked scientists by indiscriminately killing small porpoises and desperately trying to hump human scuba divers.

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By Shawn Dwyer

recovering celebs

1/02/14 5:30pm

Tom Hardy Talks Booze, Crack, and Waking Up in Vomit

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Kenny Ross and Tom Hardy Photo via

Tom Hardy, star of such blockbusters as Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), was once an out-of-control addict who nearly derailed his life and career with drugs and alcohol.

“I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control, but I couldn’t hide it,” Hardy said. “Eventually, the body gives up. I was completely kaput. I was lucky I didn’t get hepatitis or AIDS.”

The London-born actor recently opened up in a sit-down with fellow former addict, Kenny Ross, which was organized by The Prince’s Trust, a charity group that helps disadvantaged youths. Hardy currently serves as the charity’s ambassador and described how he began getting into trouble at 13, when he was already experimenting with hallucinogens. Originally from an affluent home, he was kicked out of boarding schools for theft, and quickly found himself wallowing in crack cocaine and alcohol addiction. Hardy was arrested for stealing a Mercedes and possessing a gun at 17, but somehow managed to get off without punishment.

Hardy’s descent into addiction only intensified even though he studied method acting at Drama Centre London and had a significant part in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001). But after waking up in a puddle of his own blood and vomit on the streets of Soho in 2003, Hardy finally decided to seek help. “I went in thinking I’d do it for a little bit until I can go out and drink and people forgive me,” he said. “But I did my 28 days, and after listening to people who had been through similar circumstances I realized I did have a problem.”

Though admitting that his addiction to drugs and alcohol defined his early life, Hardy now feels that his work has taken its place. “Sometimes it’s like drinking the next beer, I will do the next film and the next, keep going, keep going,” he said. “If I stop working they might take it away from me. People will say ‘Tommy you’re doing well’ and I say ‘Am I?’”

“I love what I do, but it’s driven by a fear of not being able to do it. It’s the same with drinking – if I stop then who am I? What have I got?”

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By Shawn Dwyer

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