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Rx Drugs

10/15/12 4:46pm

Kids With ADHD Want Their Meds

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Kids say ADHD meds help them focus.
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The debate on giving children ADHD medication is fiercely contested on both sides, but the kids themselves seem to be largely in favor of taking the meds. Researchers interviewed 151 American and British kids taking either Adderall or Concerta (a longer-acting version of the same drug). Most of them said that the meds helped them do better in school, and to manage their impulsivity. And most of them disagreed with the claim—made by many who oppose such prescriptions—that the drugs make them feel like "robots." "With medication, it's not that you're a different person. You're still the same person, but you just act a little better," says Angie, an 11-year-old from the US. The research was led by Ilina Singh, a biomedical ethicist from King's College London, who believes that children on the medication are often left out of the debate. "ADHD is a very emotive subject which inspires passionate debate," she says. "Everyone seems to have an opinion about the condition, what causes it, how to deal with children with ADHD, but the voices of these children are rarely listened to. Who better to tell us what ADHD is like and how medication affects them than the children themselves?" An estimated 5 million US kids are diagnosed with ADHD, according to recent FDA figures—a number that has skyrocketed in the last decade.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Politics

10/15/12 4:01pm

Will Gary Johnson's Pot Policy Hurt Romney?

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Johnson wants a "rational drug policy."
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Throughout all the election hoopla so far, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson—whose poll numbers are relatively tiny—has largely been forgotten. But mainstream politicians, particularly Republicans, are reportedly starting to get a little nervous about him as election day looms. The former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico advocates for something that's supported by the majority of Americans, but not by the two leading candidates: the legalization of marijuana. The GOP worries that Johnson will whittle off more of their votes in this tight race, much as Ralph Nader cut into Al Gore’s support in the 2000 election, helping to hand the election to George W. Bush. “As we all learned in Florida, when something’s close enough, even small numbers can make a difference,” says Charlie Cook, the publisher of the Cook Political Report, which monitors electoral trends. So Republicans in a few states are now attempting to hinder Johnson any way they can; party officials in Michigan blocked him from the ballot for filing his paperwork three minutes after deadline. In Iowa, one of Romney’s aides provided witnesses to testify in an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit to block Johnson. And in Pennsylvania, Republicans hired a private detective to investigate Johnson's Philadelphia ballot drive. 

Johnson says he has no problem being a potential spoiler in the election, as he sees it as “a debate between Coke and Pepsi.” He's happy to keep talking about the issues most important to him, as a fiscal conservative and social liberal. "Nowhere in the constitution does it say what we can or cannot put in our own bodies by our own choice," he told The Fix last November. "I suggest that if we legalize marijuana, this country will take giant steps to what I would call rational drug policy, which starts with looking at drugs first as a health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue."

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By Chrisanne Grise

Underage Drinking

10/15/12 3:17pm

One Direction Members Raid Hotel Mini Bars

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Mini band-mates on a mini-bar mission
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It ain’t easy being in one of the world’s most popular boy bands—just ask the members of One Direction, the British quintet behind this summer's eternal hit, "What Makes You Beautiful." The young stars, aged between 18 and 20, have been hit with a “no booze, smoking or sex” order from their management, to help keep up their squeaky-clean, kid-friendly image. But they don't seem to be taking it too seriously. While they're of legal drinking age at home in England, they're still underage in the US—not that that's prevented them from drinking on tour. "We have to get it out of the mini bar at the hotel,” reveals 19-year-old member Niall Horan. “That's the only way!" They admit to craving a few pints of beer while they’re on the road. They'll have to choose between conquering those blossoming cravings and plundering more hotel supplies as they continue to tour the US to promote their second album, which is due out next month.

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By Chrisanne Grise

eating disorders

10/15/12 2:13pm

Proud2Bme.org Fights Online "Thinspiration"

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Proud2Be.org features inspiration—not
THINspiration—for teens. Photo via

Proud2Bme.org is one website that hopes to harness the power of the internet to help young people recover from eating disorders. The web can be a dangerous zone for those with eating disorders and body image issues, offering up a host of "pro-ana" websites connecting anorexic and bulimic teens, and encouraging their behaviors with "thinspirational" pictures, forums, videos and blogs. But these communities do offer the benefit of helping connect young people who might otherwise suffer in isolation, and Proud2Bme hopes to build similar social networks—but with a healthier purpose. “We need to be looking at these communities and see what we can learn from them, and what we can provide as a positive alternative," says Claire Mysko, the site's manager. Proud2Bme, which is financed by the National Eating Disorders Association, hopes to enhance its appeal to young girls by including “fashion and everyday stuff," alongside positive messages about health and body image. Founded in 2011, it currently receives about 7,000 visitors a day, and features articles by celebrities like Demi Lovato, who has been open about her struggles with bulimia. “Those who might be attracted to thinspiration content will find a space where they can feel accepted and feel like they are able to talk to others who get it,” says Mysko. “It’s an environment that’s promoting recovery.” Other online movements have recently sprung up intending to inspire young people to take positive action with regard to body image—including a recent Body Revolution movement launched by Lady Gaga in response to media attacks on her perceived weight gain.

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By May Wilkerson

reality tv

10/15/12 12:50pm

Breaking Amish: Maybe Fake, Definitely Drunk

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Kate has been shunned for her alcohol abuse.
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Some earth-shattering "reality" TV news: the booze-soaked TLC show Breaking Amish is being attacked for falsifying details of the castmates' lives—to the point where some have dubbed it "Faking Amish." The show ostensibly whisks young Amish and Mennonites from Pennsylvania and puts them in a Hyatt on Lexington, introducing them to microwaves, light switches and Chateau Diane for the first time. But Facebook sleuths have recently claimed that cast members Abe and Rebecca—portrayed on screen as a newly-met courting couple—already have a child together. Star magazine joined the fun by reporting that castmate Jeremiah left the Amish no fewer than 14 years ago and has three children from an ex-wife, whom he abused. One thing that probably isn’t fake about the castmates is their alcohol abuse. Especially Kate’s: she's seen drinking to excess, blacking out, and making amends for some regrettable flipcamming—the Bishop’s daughter even picked up a DUI in Florida. On last night’s episode, the others "shunned" her for her drinking; they all moved into one hotel room, leaving Kate on her own. But the shunners are hardly angels: Abe has a 2008 arrest for public intoxication on his record, while Jeremiah frequently seems wasted. And aren't we told that it's better to confront an addict without anger and judgement, explaining to them rationally how their behavior is affecting you? Kate’s freak-outs are disturbing, but won't hurt the ratings: watching trainwrecks has long been a popular pursuit.

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By Sue Smith

Prison smuggling

10/15/12 11:48am

Dozens of Cali Prison Staff Caught Smuggling

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Cell phones make it easy to deal drugs from
prison. Photo via

It's not just the inmates who smuggle contraband into prisons—Californian prison employees have also been getting in on the act. A report from the state's prison watchdog agency reveals that more than 20 prison employees suspected of smuggling cellphones to inmates have resigned or been fired in recent months. And altogether, 54 employees have been accused of smuggling phones; the allegations were dropped in 13 of those cases, while the rest remain under investigation. Smuggling cell phones to prisoners was made a federal crime last year, and is now punishable by up to six months' in prison. Cell phones are used to run street gangs, intimidate witnesses, plan assaults on guards and deal drugs from behind bars.

Most of the busted phone-smugglers did it for the money—cell phones can fetch up to $1,000 inside. But others did it for love, after becoming romantically involved with an inmate: one of the phones confiscated in California contained text messages and nude photos sent by a female guard, while a female prison office worker is suspected of smuggling a phone to a prisoner who's believed to have fathered her child—she resigned when prosecutors requested a DNA sample. Manipulating the affections of prison staff members (despite their training to avoid this) is routine, prisoners recently told The Fix: "My man pushed up on this young rookie C/O. She was green as hell," said one. "He laid it on her real smooth, had her bringing him food, chewing gum, jewelry and it wasn't two months later she was bringing in packages for him. He finessed that girl something fierce. She was in love with him." Officials say they've confiscated fewer phones in recent months; they're on track to recover 12,000 this year, down from 15,000 last year.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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