Reports are surfacing that Camilla Parker-Bowles, the wife of Prince Charles, has been sent to a rehab in India for a drinking problem—and that Queen Elizabeth is so unamused by her behavior that she may offer the British throne to her grandson, Prince William, next instead of Charles. In addition to Camilla's alleged drunken outbursts, the Queen has also apparently taken exception to her daughter-in-law's supposed attempts to shame Kate Middleton during the nude photo scandal earlier this year. Kate herself is a prominent supporter of addiction causes. According to reports—which, we should stress, are far from officially confirmed—Prince Charles ordered his wife to attend the $5,000 per night Sukiyaki International Holistic Health Center in Bangalore, India, in an attempt to regain the Queen's approval.
"Officially she was there for a week of yoga sessions, meditation, massage with medicated oils, vegetarian foods and spiritual healing, but the truth is Camilla was being locked away to detox,” claims an anonymous source. “He bellowed that she was costing him the crown—and ordered her to clean up her act!” Camilla is said to have checked in under the pseudonym Audrey Parker, with a group of 10 friends and government minders who monitored her every move. She apparently attended the same center back in October 2010. Prince Charles already seems to accept that Camilla will never become Queen; the FAQ section on his website states: "it is intended that The Duchess will be known as HRH the Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.” If the reports are true, Charles hardly seems to have discouraged his wife's alleged alcohol problem; in 2008, the pair visited the Islay distillery of his favorite Scotch whiskey, Laphroaig, on which he bestowed his Royal Warrant.
Saturday's first-ever Recovery Fair at The Hills gathered a happy and far-less-rambunctious-than-they-used-to-be crowd to talk, taste and trade stories. While Dr. Drew Pinsky and his wife Susan chatted with Recovery Media chairman Paul McCulley and Hills owner Howard Samuels, yoga guru Tommy Rosen led attendees through some vinyasas and Intervention's Candy Finnigan checked out the recovery literature offered by Book Soup. Treat lovers were in luck: although the Baby's Burgers truck sold out early on, guests could still chill with a selection of beverages that were kind of the opposite of energy drinks—Just Chill and Dream Water among them—while The Velvet Rope Bake Shop booth, with its samples of Red Velvet truffles and salt-and-chocolate chip cookies, drew a devoted crowd. Those with healthier cravings gathered around the GIVE Superfoods table and BioK+ probiotics booth. My 12-Step Store owner RJ Holguin, Friendly House proprietress Peggy Albrecht, bestselling author (and Fix contributor) Nic Sheff, Laurie Hermann from ShopLHerman all-natural skincare, Allison Pescosolido from Divorce Detox counseling services, Isai Cortez from Bismark Tax and Douglas Evans from The Center for Healthy Sex were all among the vibrant crowd.
As kids tore around getting their faces painted and jumping on the bouncy house, and older guests cut a rug to the tunes of DJ Thrill, it was easy to forget that attendees were gathered because many of them suffered from a seemingly hopeless disease. "Being here has actually been a healing experience for me because my grandfather was an alcoholic and I never really understood what he was grappling with," Benjamin Atkinson tells The Fix. He isn't an alcoholic himself, but flew out from Ohio to introduce fair-goers to Dry Gourmet, his non-alcoholic cooking wine powder. "I'm so grateful to have been introduced to this incredibly welcoming community that I otherwise wouldn't have met." Of all the feedback Atkinson got at the fair, the comment that struck him the most came from a woman who loves to cook for family and friends. "She said, 'The Dry Gourmet would make me feel normal again. Now I can cook the dishes I've wanted to for a long time.'"
[Check out the Recovery Fair photo gallery here.]
A massive cocaine bust in Paraguay is directing rare media attention towards one of the world's most isolated and least documented drug hubs. The landlocked nation borders Bolivia, one of South America's main cocaine producers, and Brazil, which has become one of the world's top consumers of illegal drugs. Authorities yesterday seized 1,700 kilos of cocaine near Paraguay's northeast Brazilian border and arrested 19 suspects, including the country's most wanted man, Ezequiel de Souza. “This is possibly the largest shipment ever seized up to now,” says the head of the country's counternarcotics force, Francisco de Vargas. “There may be more.” Poverty, corruption and porous borders make the country easy for traffickers to exploit, but most of its rampant corruption and drug violence goes unnoticed by the rest of the world, even as the death toll steadily climbs. Journalists who attempt to break the silence often face threats to their lives—similar to those in Mexico. Paraguay is known across South America for its corruption and complicity in the global drug trade, but President Federico Franco says this recent bust signals that the country is finally finding success in stepping up anti-drug efforts. "Paraguay is committed to fight drug-trafficking," he says. "It will become known abroad as a sovereign nation, not as a drug-trafficking country."
A major new investigation from the LA Times shows just how many prescription drug-related deaths in Southern California are linked with a relatively small number of doctors. Reporters identified 3,733 Rx drug-related deaths in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties from 2006-2011; an examination of coroners' records found that in 47% of these cases, drugs for which the deceased had a prescription were the sole or contributing cause of death. And just 71 doctors—a mere 0.1% of those practicing within the four counties—contributed their prescriptions to 298 of the total deaths, with each being linked to at least three overdoses.
Huntington Beach pain specialist Dr. Van H. Vu led the count with 16 deaths—but he still has a spotless record with the Medical Board of California, which licenses and oversees physicians. Vu says that he follows recommended practices to deter drug abuse, such as requiring patients to sign "pain management contracts"—in which they agree to take medications as directed and not to obtain more from other doctors—and conducting routine urine tests to make sure meds aren't being abused. "Every single day, I try to do the best I can for every single patient," he tells the LA Times. "I can't control what they do once they leave my office."
The use of painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, with doctors writing about 300 million prescriptions for these drugs each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that's enough for every adult American to be medicated round the clock for a month. The CDC also reports that narcotic pain relievers now cause or contribute to nearly 75% of prescription drug ODs and about 15,500 deaths annually. And for every death, there are roughly 32 emergency room visits for non-fatal ODs. Despite these already-alarming findings, medical experts believe the new LA Times investigation could lead to changes in how doctors are allowed to prescribe painkillers. "Do I think this has the potential to change the game in the way it's being looked at and being addressed, both at the state and federal level? Yes, I do," says President Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske.
- Legal Drugs, Deadly Outcomes [LA Times]
- Washington DAs Begin Dropping Marijuana Possession Cases [Drug War Chronicle]
- Unlikely Allies Behind Marijuana Votes in Washington, Colorado [LA Times]
- Whiskeys Face Alcohol Crackdown in Russia [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Paraguay Seizes 1,700 Kg of Cocaine Near Brazil Border [BBC]
- Addicted to Porn: How it Destroys Lives [The Sun]
- Afghan Opium Addicts Get Married at Kabul Rehab [Daily Mail]
Colorado and Washington are currently awaiting the federal response to their citizens' votes this week to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Meanwhile, Colorado's pre-existing, highly-regulated business structure for growing and selling (previously just medical) pot is set to go into overdrive. The reassuring fact that strict oversight of medical marijuana was already in place played a big role in the eventual success of Amendment 64; under current regulations, every step in the growing process is rigorously overseen and constantly filmed by video cameras monitored by the state’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. No video blind spots are allowed, and truck shipments must detail the total weight of all marijuana products, in addition to the times of their arrival and departure. On top of that, every marijuana worker must be licensed. “The thing that Colorado really has going for it is that there is already a high level of comfort and familiarity with the state licensing, taxing and regulating the above-ground distribution of marijuana,” says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “People had become accustomed to the notion that this can be a source of tax revenue, and that police can play a role in insuring effective regulation rather than just arresting anyone they could.”
Revenue and profit considerations also played a major role in the amendment passing. Amendment 64 is predicted to siphon considerable profits away from drug cartels and generate up to $60 million annually in combined tax revenues and savings from reduced law enforcement costs (according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy). There will also be a 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales, with the first $40 million in revenues every year earmarked for the construction of public schools. And despite protests from DEA administrators, Colorado's Attorney General won't go after the hundreds of dispensaries in the state—only those that are within 1,000 yards of a school will be targeted. Colorado's new law allow residents over the age of 21 to possess and use pot, as well as personally cultivating up to six plants.