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3/19/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: March 19, 2013

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The Gossip singer raises a ruckus. Photo via

By Bryan Le

sizzurp

3/18/13 5:26pm

Why Sizzurp Is Unsafe to Slurp

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Lil' Wayne and his purple drank. Photo via

Rapper Lil' Wayne is in the hospital after suffering seizures, and many think the cause is sizzurp, the "purple drank" made popular by several hip hop stars. The brew is made by combining prescription-strength cough syrup with drinks like Sprite or Mountain Dew and Jolly Rancher candy. It gets its purplish hue from dyes in the cough syrup, which contains the opiate codeine and the anti-histamine promethazine. Addiction expert and Caron Foundation vice president Dr. Harris Stratyner tells The Fix that what scares him most is that the "very dangerous concoction" is being geared toward kids, who don't realize it is hazardous. "Because Sprite or Mountain Dew and Jolly Rancher candy is in it, it's seen as innocent," he tells us. "They overlook the fact that codeine is an extremely strong opiate." Stratyner says side effects may include dehydration and seizures. In addition, promethazine is an antiemetic, which means it prevents you from vomiting, he explains: "If you drink poison and you don't have the ability to throw up, it can do a lot of harm."

Dr. Stratyner blames sizzurp's popularity on hip hop, saying: "Rap songs are sung about it, the kids think it's hip." And he's not wrong. Lil' Wayne is among many hip-hop artists who have showed lyrical love for the "Texas Tea" with lines like "syrup, syrup, syrup, haha yeah" and "Pardon the slur, that's the purple." And rapper Juicy J says he "gotta have that drank" because it's "nothing like that yella yella that will have you itchin maybe" (a reference to "The Heroin Scratch"—a side-effect of barbiturates). But in spite of the perception that sizzurp may be less risky than other "harder" drugs, it is suspected to have caused the deaths of several prominent users in the hip-hop community, including DJ ScrewBig Moe and Pimp C. Three 6 Mafia rapper DJ Paul—famous for his song "Sippin' on Some Syrup"—even issued a warning about the drink after pop star Justin Bieber was photographed surrounded by cups of codeine last month. "I can't say don't do [sizzurp] because I did my rounds with it," said Paul, "But I stay away from it these days because I had a lot of friends that passed away from it. It's dangerous if you do too much of it."

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By Sarah Beller

opioid epidemic

3/18/13 4:14pm

Teen Heroin Use Keeps Rising in Suburbia

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It started with prescription drugs. Photo via

Heroin use among young people is continuing to rise in suburban towns across the US—following on from the spike in teen prescription drug abuse. Back in 2011, authorities noted that Chicago teens were increasingly "graduating" to heroin after getting hooked on prescription opiates like Oxy. And as The Fix reported last year, many young people in recovery for heroin addiction say the first opiate they tried was a prescription painkiller. And a surge of media reports suggest that the problem is continuing to snowball. “Heroin is an opioid, so the natural progression here is that people become addicted to prescription opioids first, and then when they can no longer afford or no longer obtain prescription opioids, they move on to heroin,” explains Orman Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. The number of heroin overdoses in northwest Ohio has been steadily increasing: 14 in 2010, 31 in 2011 and 55 last year. As of February 2013, 14 overdose deaths have been reported, according to the Lucas County coroner’s office. One of the victims is 25-year-old Matthew Schroeder, who overdosed at his parents’ house late last year, after a struggle with opiate addiction. “Matt didn’t just wake up in the morning and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to try heroin,’” says his mother, who blames his addiction on her son being prescribed an array of pharmaceuticals during his teens. 

Reports from McHenry County, Illinois, reveal the same pattern. "In my 29 years of law enforcement, when you talked of heroin, it was inner city," says McHenry County Police Sgt. John Lawson. "When you thought of drugs out of suburbs, you thought marijuana. Heroin is out here. And we're seeing a lot of it. The trend was marijuana, then cocaine, and now it's heroin." An upcoming community forum called "Heroin in Our Community" is in the works to educate Chicago parents on the problem by confronting them with what police say is irrefutable evidence of a growing problem in the suburbs. “[Heroin addicts] have similar stories and pathways to how they got where they are,” says Chris Gleason, director of a mental health and substance abuse treatment center in McHenry County, Illinois. “And almost all of them say they started with prescription drugs and then ended up on heroin.”

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By Tony O'Neill

obituary

3/18/13 3:31pm

Indie Singer Jason Molina Dies From Alcoholism

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RIP Jason Molina. Photo via

Troubled musician Jason Molina, of the cult indie-rock bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., died Saturday night of organ failure associated with alcohol consumption, reports music blog Chunklet. Molina was 39. "What many of us were slow to find out is that Molina had a pretty significant drinking problem," writes Chunklet founder Henry H. Owings, "This disease, which snuffed out his life, controlled Jason for most of the last decade." News about Molina's troubles broke in 2011, following a canceled tour in 2009, with a post on Molina's website written by his family, telling fans that over the past two years, their son had done stints in rehab in England, Chicago, Indianapolis, and New Orleans. But although Molina's family was optimistic about his chances for recovery at the time, things took a turn for the worse over the past year. After a post on Magnolia Electric Co.'s website in May 2012, Molina wasn't heard from publicly again. His last missive read: "Treatment is good, getting to deal with a lot of things that even the music didn’t want to. I have not given up because you, my friends have not given up on me. I do still need your support however that takes shape, good vibes are worth more than you might think."

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By Hunter R. Slaton

our fathers

3/18/13 2:12pm

Why England's New Archbishop Won't Drink Alone

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Like father, like son? Photo via

The painful memories of having an alcoholic father still resonate deeply with Justin Welby, 57, the new senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury confesses that he has his wife Caroline closely monitor his alcohol intake and refuses to drink alone for fear of ending up like his father Gavin. He describes the former bootlegger, who died in 1977, as “very erratic...very irrational...then, of course, one worries how much of this is how one’s going to behave oneself," and he adds: "The experience of living with a parent who had a drink problem is very shaping as to one’s views of what human beings are like." Welby says he is far from a teetotaler and will "very much enjoy a drink." But he asks his wife Caroline to tell him if he's had one too many, because “the children of alcoholics have a much better chance themselves of having a dependency problem.” In an interview last November, Welby spoke in-depth about his father and how he bootlegged whiskey in the US with his "Italian friends" during the Prohibition years. “I lived with him but I didn’t know him very well,” said Welby. “He told lots of stories but one was never really sure what was true and what wasn’t. He drank quite heavily and, you know, he would say things sometimes when he had been drinking and you did not know what was true or not.” Welby is slated to be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury on Thursday.

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By McCarton Ackerman

social smoking

3/18/13 12:59pm

"Social Farting" Ad Takes Aim at Social Smokers

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Time to quit the denial. Photo via

Passing gas is cool, as long as you do it socially. Or...not. "Social smoking is as ridiculous as social farting," is the message behind a new televised anti-smoking ad, by the Canadian campaign Quit The Denial. In the video (below, if you can stomach it), a girl lets one rip at a party, but explains that she doesn't personally identify with the rancid habit. “Well it's true that I fart, but I wouldn't call myself a farter,” she says, “I'm a social farter.” She only does it when she's with her farter friends or as an excuse to meet guys by asking them if they want to step outside for a fart, she says. The ad suggests that you're still a smoker, even if you only do it "socially." Other campaigns by Quit The Denial include a social nibbler, who eats off others' plates instead of ordering his own meals.

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By Bryan Le

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