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sober stars

4/30/13 12:10pm

Jamie Lee Curtis' Sobriety Is Her #1 Accomplishment

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Sobriety is no minor feat. Photo via

Jamie Lee Curtis has won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe during her prolific acting career, but she says her recovery from addiction has been her greatest achievement. This past weekend, the 54-year-old actress served as the headline speaker at the annual spring luncheon of The Council On Alcohol And Drugs Houston, which raised $700,000 for their programs. "My recovery from drug addiction is the single greatest accomplishment of my life because it broke the cycle of addiction in my family," she said in her speech. In recent months, Curtis has become increasingly candid about her battle with alcoholism. "For a long time I felt like I was failing. I feel like a failure as a mother a lot, because despite my best efforts, I have replicated parts of how I was parented [that I didn't want to],” she said in the October 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping. “Even though I vowed not to and felt like I was doing it so differently, in many ways I repeated some of the same problems.” She has now been sober for over 13 years, and she acknowledges that it has been no small feat. “Getting sober was the single bravest thing I’ve ever done and will ever do in my life," she said, "Not [running] a 5K—facing an addiction. Being courageous enough to acknowledge it privately with my family and friends. Working really hard at solidifying it, getting support around it and being healthy. And then talking about it publicly.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

amanda knox

4/30/13 10:59am

Pot Was Amanda Knox's "Vice"

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Guilty of loving ganja Photo via

In her new autobiography, Amanda Knox: Waiting to be Heard, the 25-year-old accused of killing her roommate in Italy describes her excessive marijuana use, calling it her "vice." “Around our house marijuana was as common as pasta. We all chipped in. It was purely social," she writes, of the apartment she shared with roommate Meredith Kercher, who was murdered in 2007. Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 29, spent four years in jail until their convictions for were overturned in 2011. In the book, she says she and Sollecito bonded over their shared affinity for pot, which she describes as a "vice" for both of them. On the night of her roommate's murder, Knox says she and Sollecito were at his apartment, smoking a joint and watching a movie. The book also chronicles Knox's drug use and sexual encounters as she traveled throughout Italy, including her "first time": “We shared a joint, and high and giggly, we went to his hotel room. I’d just turned 20. This was my first one night stand.” In an interview with Diane Sawyer, which aires tonight on ABC, Knox says: “I’d like to be reconsidered as a person. What happened to me was surreal but it could’ve happened to anyone. This is my way of speaking up for myself.”

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By Valerie Tejeda

headlines

4/30/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: April 30, 2013

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By Bryan Le

giving back

4/29/13 5:05pm

R&B Star Mario Mentors Kids Impacted by Drugs

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Mario with some of his mentees. Photo via

Grammy-nominated R&B singer and songwriter Mario Barrett, better known as "Mario," established the Mario Do Right Foundation in 2007 to mentor and educate kids impacted by drugs in their homes and communities. The 26-year-old Baltimore native says that his own experiences of growing up with a drug-addicted mother, and losing family members and friends to addiction, inspired him to work with kids in similar situations. "I saw the detrimental effect that drugs had on my family and peers, mentally, physically and spiritually," he tells The Fix. "I saw a lot of family members pass away from overdoses and long-term drug use." Through his foundation, he started "Live Right Do Right"—a 16-week after-school program to educate kids about avoiding drug problems, while encouraging them to share about their personal experiences and their home life. Live Right Do Right's motto is "Act out of choice rather than habit," and its aim is to equip kids to deal with peer pressure and make their own decisions about drugs and alcohol. The program also offers family counseling as well as education for teachers and school staff on how to support students with addicted family members. "A lot of these kids feel alienated because they live in crazy situations where they're up late at night doing adult duties like taking care of their family," says Barrett. "This program gives the school the opportunity to learn who their students are. I believe that teachers have the responsibility of being parents in terms of the social and mental health of the kids."

A big part of Barrett's role in the program involves sharing his own personal experiences (either in person or via Skype video chat), to help the kids feel more comfortable opening up about what's going on at home. "I never got help or had anybody to talk to about my mother's addiction to drugs," he tells us. "I want to inspire these kids to take another route and let them know they're not alone. I want them to understand that they can learn and build from their experiences." Live Right Do Right currently operates in Barrett's hometown of Baltimore, but plans to expand to Philly too. Earlier this month, the foundation joined forces with The Medicine Abuse Project, led by The Partnership at Drugfree.org. And this August, Barrett is kicking off a nationwide tour of middle schools, high schools and colleges to speak about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. An estimated one in four teens has tried unprescribed Rx drugs. "A lot of kids use it to help their moods," Barrett tells us. "We want to tell them that if they're going to use [Rx drugs], don't abuse them." Meanwhile Mario is also working on his music; the chart-topping singer is set to release an album in the fall.

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By Victoria Kim

pregnant smokers

4/29/13 3:33pm

Moms-to-Be Get Paid to Quit Smoking

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Would you quit for cash? Photo via

A state-sponsored health organization in Eugene, Oregon is getting creative in its approach to curbing smoking among pregnant women, by rewarding those who quit with gift cards. Despite the risks of smoking during pregnancy—which include pre-term deliveries, fetal death and life-long medical complications like asthma and ear infections for the child—many moms-to-be have a hard time giving it up, especially since nicotine replacement products are discouraged during pregnancy. According to Dr. Holly Jo Hodges of the Trillium Health Plan, “up to 40% of women of child bearing age on the Oregon Health Plan smoked cigarettes and 32% of them continued to smoke while they were pregnant." Pregnant smokers who sign up for the new Trillium program will pick a quit date and sign up for counseling, returning again for check-ups after 16-weeks, where they undergo a urine test to prove they're smoke-free. Those who test negative for nicotine can earn $20 gift cards over time (up to $200 in total) to a department store—where their purchases are limited to baby clothes, groceries and household supplies. "If at any point in time somebody falls off the wagon, they had a stressful day, something happened and they go back to smoking and they test positive at any point along the way, they just don't get the gift certificate that time,” says Hodges, “But they're still eligible to get the certificate the next time." Trillium reportedly spends up to $1 million each year caring for babies suffering from the effects of smoking. According to Hodges, the goal is to get a third of the 500 women a year who deliver Trillium to stop smoking.

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By Chrisanne Grise

legal pot

4/29/13 2:20pm

Legal Pot Dispensaries Are Prime Targets for Thieves

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Marijuana's high demand means it's pretty pricey, and dispensaries need the best security on the market to deter potential theft. With pot going for about $2,000 a pound, bud burglars can easily make $20,000 just by bagging what's on the counter. Typical dispensaries will employ "dozens of security cameras," motion detectors, infrared sensors, flood lights and sometimes even ceiling tripwires to prevent a thief from sawing through the roof. At most dispensaries, those entering must pass through three doors, show ID and present a verified doctor's note. But many security companies refuse to do business with dispensaries, even in states where state law permits medical or recreational use of the drug. The nation's largest security provider, ADT Security, says it won't "sell security services to businesses engaged in the marijuana industry because it is still illegal under federal law." Kevin Griffin, proprietor of West Coast Wellness, a pot dispensary in Seattle, says ADT cut off his business without warning. “They already knew what we were. We were completely transparent," says Griffin, "It's not fair to put us in a jam and not give us any time to prepare.”

The pot industry's high-security needs create an opportunity for specialized security start ups like Colorado's Canna Security to step in. The founder, Daniel Williams, says his company has witnessed a slew of pot heists straight out of the movies, from a group of teenagers ramming an Audi through a warehouse wall, to a thief sawing a hole in a dispensary roof and then getting trapped inside, to a pair of "ninjas" who stuck up a marijuana deliveryman in broad daylight. But Williams stresses that marijuana security is "no joke" and can result in major losses for these businesses. Still, Griffin says his own business faces just as much of a threat from the feds. “They're worse than criminals,” he says, fearing a federal shut down. “They have the right to walk through the front door and take whatever they want.”

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By Bryan Le

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