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Drugged Driving

7/09/13 10:52am

UK Cracks Down on Drugged Driving

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"Drugalyzers" will test drivers on-the-spot.
Photo via

Brits who abuse prescription drugs and drive could soon face steep fines and even jail time. Drivers will also face a "zero tolerance limit" on illegal substances including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy. As part of a crackdown on "drugged driving" starting next year, police will begin using new “drugalyser” devices, which can immediately measure even small traces of drugs in an individual’s system. Those driving under the influence of illegal drugs, or prescription drugs not as prescribed, will face a 12-month driving ban, six months in jail, and a fine of up to £5,000 (roughly $7,400). Anyone taking legally prescribed medications will not be penalized, unless they have taken more than the recommended dose or ignored doctors’ advice not to drive. “Drug-driving is a menace which devastates families and ruins lives. That is why we are proposing to take a zero-tolerance approach with those who drive under the influence,” says Road safety minister Stephen Hammond. “We know that the vast majority of people who use prescription drugs are doing so responsibly. That is why our approach does not unduly penalize drivers who have taken properly prescribed medicines.” Experts predict that cracking down on drugged drivers will save at least 200 lives a year.

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By Chrisanne Grise

headlines

7/09/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 9, 2013

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Dr Finkelstein first suspected Jackson's
painkiller dependence in '93. Photo via

By Victoria Kim

opiate epidemic

7/08/13 5:05pm

Photographer Captures Addicted Mothers and Babies

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Tara Lee Bailey and her daughter, who was
born addicted to opiates Photo via

The rise in babies hooked on opioids at birth is one of the more harrowing example of America's prescription painkiller epidemic. Every hour, an opiate-dependent baby is born in the United States, or about 13,500 infants in 2009—a five-fold increase from 2000. Though dependent mothers in some states still face prosecution or even jail time, a growing number of free clinics now work to get dependent mothers and their newborns the treatment they need. Funded by a combination of medicaid, health insurance and grants, there are at least nine such clinics in states including Washington and Pennsylvania. Andrew Spear, a photographer for the Wall Street Journal, visited one of them—the Maternal Addiction and Recovery Center at the Marshall University's medical school in Huntington, West Virginia—and took portraits of mothers who have sought treatment for their addictions and since given birth. Below is a portrait of Tara Lee Bailey, who sought help after quitting opiates on her own proved too hard, pictured with her daughter Willow Grace Chapman, who was born dependent. Check out the full gallery here.

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By Bryan Le

drink dial

7/08/13 4:13pm

UK Launches Controversial 24-Hour "Dial-a-Drink" Service

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Quenching your after-pub thirst. Photo via

Starting this week, people in parts of North West England can now have their nightcaps delivered straight to their doorsteps. A new 24-hour "dial-a-drink" delivery service has been granted a trading license, despite pushback from district council and public health officials. "Booze Bury" was initially rejected—twice—due to public health concerns, and told that their chances of approval were "slim to none." But Bury Council finally gave them the green light, on the grounds that 24-hour supermarkets are permitted to sell alcohol at all times. Dr. Peter Elton, Director of Public Health at NHS Bury, calls the new business "dangerous" and says it will drive up booze consumption and related health issues. "There is no doubt that increasing access in this way will increase problem drinking and lead to more hospital admissions and eventually to more people dying from alcohol-related disease," he says. "Public health is not against the enjoyment of alcohol in moderation, but making it easier for people to drink to excess both damages themselves and increases the risk of violence in others."

But Booze Bury maintains that they are committed to promoting "responsible" drinking. "We have agreed to a wide range of conditions that promote responsible drinking and driver safety," says a spokesman. "Our website contains a video about responsible drinking and the full list of conditions which customers must stick to in order for us to deliver. We will work with the council and other authorities to ensure this is a worthwhile venture for us and safe for everybody." Drinking contributed to an estimated 1,220,300 hospitalizations in England last year—double the number in 2002-03. And in 2011, World Health Organization categorized the country as one of the booziest in the world.

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By McCarton Ackerman

alcoholics anonymous

7/08/13 3:33pm

Bill W. and Dr. Bob Opens Tonight in NYC

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Patrick Boll, the new face of Bill W. Photo via

Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a play about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, opens tonight at the Soho Playhouse in NYC (click here for tickets.) The play, co-written and produced by Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey and directed by Seth Gordon, focuses on the meeting, friendship and recovery of AA's co-founders, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, as well as their wives, Lois Wilson and Ann Smith, who co-founded Al-Anon. Broadway veteran Patrick Boll plays stockbroker-turned-12-step-founder Bill W., and though Boll is a newcomer to the story of AA, his character's struggles are familiar to him. "My father was a major alcoholic before he passed," Boll tells The Fix, adding that the script "really rang true for me."

The play has been staged more than 100 times in 35 states, as well as Australia, Canada and England. But this production is unique in that all proceeds will go to the Hazelden Foundation, who will put the donations towards a planned college tour of the play, to combat campus binge drinking. "This is the first time that we are doing it the way we want to do it," Shem tells us. The play's mission is threefold, the producers explain: to celebrate recovery, to educate about alcoholism and to reduce stigma. It also seeks to highlight the power of relationships and community in recovery—and not just in recovery from alcoholism. Shem says it's relatable to anyone who has experienced any form of suffering or isolation: "You don't have to know anything about alcoholism or drug abuse to love this play."

Like AA, the play has evolved with some help from group participation. At a talkback session after the first reading of the script, an audience member who had met Bill Wilson described the AA co-founder as "the kind of guy who could talk a dog off a meat wagon"—a line which later made its way into the script.

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By Hunter R. Slaton

quitting smoking

7/08/13 2:02pm

Man Dons Wire Mask to Quit Smoking

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The cost of freedom. Photo via

If you've ever tried to quit smoking, you may be able to relate to a man from Turkey who has created a special wire helmet to prevent a cigarette from entering his mouth. Ibrahim Yucel, a 42-year-old technician from Kütahya, Turkey, says he wanted to kick his 26-year-long two-pack-a-day habit for the sake of his family. But after multiple past attempts to quit on his own birthday every year, his three children's birthdays, and his wedding anniversary, he couldn't manage to stay smoke-free for more than a few days. So he invented and built a wire head cage, inspired by motorcycle helmets, which he locks on to his head. And he has given the only two sets of keys to his wife and teenage daughter. He says the shame of wearing a large wire helmet on his head in public is an additional factor motivating him to quit. Yucel lost his own father to lung cancer from smoking, and he is determined not to leave his family in the same situation. He's been wearing the helmet, and has been smoke-free, since the beginning of this month.

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By Bryan Le

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