- Whitney Houston's Daughter Bobbi Kristina Rushed to the Hospital [TMZ]
- Marijuana Decrim Question Must Appear on Detroit Ballot, Court Rules [Huffington Post]
- Peru Captures Wounded Shining Path "Narco-Terrorist" [Reuters]
- Testing Pot in a Legal Vacuum [LA Times]
- Drunk, Drugged Children Rounded Up in Sydney [Sydney Morning Herald]
- Demi Moore Gets Addiction Support From Melanie Griffith [NY Daily News]
Fans around the world have reacted with shock to the sudden death of iconic ballad-singer Whitney Houston, who was found in a hotel room in Beverley Hills yesterday. Huge, influential hits like "I Will Always Love You" and "Saving All My Love For You" cemented her position as one of music's A-listers, but in the last two decades of her life her substance abuse problems and her rocky 15-year marriage to singer Bobby Brown featured just as heavily. Her addictions reportedly encompassed substances including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and crack, and she entered a rehab program for the third time in May last year. RadarOnline states that police removed "a plethora of sedatives including Lorazepam, Valium, Xanax, and a sleeping medication" from the star's room at the Beverley Hilton hotel, while TMZ reports that her body was found submerged in the bathtub by her hairdresser. She was confirmed dead at 3:55 pm. An autopsy is likely to be held in the next two days, but toxicology reports could take six to eight weeks to be completed, if it's confirmed that drugs or alcohol were involved.
Since the news of Houston's death, fans have flocked to buy her records, pushing her albums into four of the top five spots on the Amazon chart and the single "I Will Always Love You" to number three on the iTunes chart—closely followed by many of her other hits. Tributes from famous figures in the music world have predictably flowed in too. Mariah Carey said she was "heartbroken and in tears." Rihanna tweeted "No words! Just Tears," as well as a succession of lyrics from Houston's songs. And ex-husband Bobby Brown pointed to the sky on stage in Mississippi last night and said, "I love you Whitney."
Whitney Houston's final performance came just days ago, at Kelly Price's pre-Grammy party in Hollywood [below]. A tribute to her is planned at the Grammy awards ceremony tonight, when Jennifer Hudson is expected to sing. Many more will follow.
The Fix (@_TheFix) and Phoenix House (@PhoenixHouse) have Valentine's plans and you're invited! Our Twitter chat, open to all will take place on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 7 pm EST, so you don't have to cancel your romantic dinner plans. Appropriately enough our subject of discussion will be "Relationships and Recovery." We'll be posing questions and sharing experiences about love, sex, addiction and friendship. How does addiction and recovery affect romance and sex, for example? How important (or not) are certain friendships to your recovery? What's the world of dating like for someone trying to stay sober?
To join in, simply log in to Twitter from 7-8pm EST and search for the hashtag #drugchat to see what people are saying. Be sure to include #drugchat in everything you tweet, too.
We look forward to joining you online! For extra information, click here. And be sure to follow these expert participants and Fix staff to get the most out of the discussion:
@_TheFix, @PhoenixHouse, @MaerRoshan, @HMeitiner, @DrPaulNYC, @SoberCoachNYC, @MrMikeGuy, @JoeSchrank, @godfreywill, @annadavid, @Guinevere64, @denicarise, @drugnews, @FacesandVoices, @thehelpline, @Srwebcourse, @apedelman, @ArmstrongWalter, @CraigSloanLCSW, @nic_sheff, @rachaelbrownell, @samlansky
Drivers who consume cannabis within three hours before driving are almost twice as likely to suffer a severe or fatal car accident as those not under the influence, according to a new study. The researchers—who published their findings online in the British Medical Journal—conducted a systematic review of nine studies on the subject of marijuana and driving accidents, with a total of almost 50,000 participants. According to Mark Asbridge, associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, cannabis affects drivers' spatial location, potentially causing them to follow cars too closely or swerve in and out of lanes. This differs from the main effect alcohol has on drivers: slower reaction times. "People under the influence of cannabis often deny feeling impaired," says Asbridge. "There clearly is a lot of misconception about the extent to which cannabis impairs performance. People just don't believe it." The likelihood of marijuana use causing accidents is highest for drivers aged 35 and under.
The Oglala Sioux Nation filed suit against five big American beer makers for $500 million Thursday, to cover the healthcare and social costs of alcohol-related illness in the tribe. The lawsuit names Anheuser-Bush InBev Worldwide, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors LLC, SAB Miller and Pabst Brewing Company. Four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska—a town with only a dozen residents that still sold nearly five million cans of beer in 2010—are also targeted. Most of the stores' customers come from the nearby Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where alcohol has been banned since 1832, and tribal leaders say the stores and manufacturers are responsible for the reservation’s chronic alcohol abuse. “You cannot sell 4.9 million 12-ounce cans of beer and wash your hands like Pontius Pilate, and say we’ve got nothing to do with it being smuggled,” says Tom White, the lawyer representing the tribe.
The suit specifies that one in four children born on the reservation suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It's been documented that Native Americans are prone to alcoholism because, genetically, they have a lower tolerance than other ethnic groups. A 2008 CDC report showed that nearly 12% of deaths among Native Americans are alcohol-related—more than three times the proportion in the general population—with two-thirds of them occurring before the age of 50. Reservation residents have an average life expectancy of between 45 and 52 years—the lowest in North America except for Haiti, the lawsuit adds. The reservation holds some of the nation’s poorest counties, with nearly half of residents living below federal poverty levels.
“Whenever you have people who are hopeless and impoverished and in trouble you’re going to get a lot of substance abuse,” Claire D. Coles, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and Director of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center of the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia, tells The Fix. Cohen says preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in communities with high alcoholism rates would require early identification of affected children, the training of physicians to identify drinking women during pregnancy, early prenatal care and adequate nutrition, early identification of affected babies at birth, and “support to the males in the family so they’ll support the women in not drinking. All of these things need to be done, and they do help.”
Jesse Farrelly—the 20-year-old son of There's Something About Mary director Bobby Farrelly—has died of what's believed to be a drug overdose. Authorities in California's Orange County took a 911 call about an "unresponsive young male...possible overdose" on Wednesday night, and Jesse was pronounced dead at a local hospital. His father, Bobby, and uncle, Peter, make up a hugely successful Hollywood directing, writing and production partnership, with hits like Dumb and Dumber and Shallow Hal to their name. Jesse had reportedly been helping out on their forthcoming Three Stooges movie recently. The Farrelly family has released the following statement: "It is with profound sorrow that we accept the passing of our beloved Jesse following his struggle with addiction. We fully trust that he is now in the hands of our Lord." More Americans now die from ODs than from traffic accidents.