- Teenage Girls Who Drink Alcohol are Ratcheting Up Breast Cancer Risk [LA Times]
- Chicago Moves to Ban Synthetic Marijuana After Mother's Plea [Chicago Sun Times]
- Europe Switches to Self-Extinguishing Cigarettes [AFP]
- Grandmother Killed by Heroin Addict in Search of Cash [Yorkshire Post]
- Buyer of Chrysler Minivan Finds $500 K of Cocaine Stashed in Door Panels [Washington Post]
- Half-Naked Climber, Possibly High on Mushrooms, Rescued in Colorado [Explorers Web]
- Gambling Addict Nun Stole $1 Million from Catholic School for Atlantic City Slot Machines [Daily Mail]
A partying college student and tennis player is suing Fordham University after he went to sleep drunk and fell four feet from his dorm room loft bed, hitting his head so hard that his spine fractured. Kei Usami, 20, woke up in the hospital paralyzed from the neck down, spent four months in rehab and is now using a wheelchair. "My goal is to attend graduation in 2013 and walk up and get my diploma," says the unfortunate underage drinker. His lawyers blame Fordham's failure to install guardrails on the high bed—and the failure of the university’s volunteer EMS team to use a neck brace when transporting Usami to the hospital—for his injuries. But Fordham contends that Usami's, “voluntary consumption of large amounts of alcohol,” that night was the key factor, court records show. Yet with Usami’s medical bills already having reached $1.1 million—with possible damages and legal fees to follow—the university is apparently hedging its bets. It's suing the two companies that supplied the beds.
This video report about St. Louis drug dealers giving out heroin to teens at local parties lends some anecdotal evidence to the old story about dealers giving freebies to new customers to get them hooked, only to jack up the price later. On the streets there's also the common practice of dispensing "testers," where the crew that runs heroin distribution on a certain corner will debut a new batch of product by handing out free nickel bags to addicts. This is done so they'll spread the word to their friends and come back to buy if they like the taste. When the call goes out that a corner's serving testers, it can bring a pack of addicts literally running to line up for one. In big East Coast cities like New York and Philly heroin comes packaged in little glassine envelopes, stamped with a brand name so addicts can identify potent bags and return to the right corner to get more of the same batch. They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, and that's as true in the drug world as anywhere. But sometimes they'll give you just enough to whet your appetite.
England: home of rampant alcohol abuse. But the northern city of Liverpool—with an even higher percentage of binge drinkers than the national average, according to a 2008 NHS study—is making a valiant effort to change. September saw the opening of The Brink: a new kind of bar, without the fights, the puke and most importantly, the booze. Funded through a charity called Action on Addiction, it's described as a dry bar or, if you will, a "so-bar." One of The Brink's goals is to supply a hip way for people in recovery to reorganize their social lives, and offer a place to go that feels like home (a bar) without the attendant dangers of the usual nightspots. It's received some favorable press. But the question is whether the bar can sell enough virgin cocktails—in Liverpool, of all places—to survive and support a staff without charging exorbitant amounts for liquor. As (wet) bar owner Matt Spencer says, "It's more of a hip version of AA, but unless someone's offering to pay the rent, I can't see how it can make money."
About 15,000 people arrived at US emergency rooms in 2009 after being deliberately drugged by someone else without their knowledge, finds a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The victims' demographics are broad: nearly 75% are over the age of 21—and perhaps surprisingly, almost 40% are male. Most cases—just under 60%—involve drinks being spiked. The motives for these poisonings aren't good ones; they include the desire to rob, attack or rape—about three million American women in total have been raped in cases found to involve non-consensual drugging. "This is not an epidemic, but it is a serious situation," says Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. He lists "stimulants, cocaine, ecstasy, anxiety drugs" as among those used. And the reported figures understate the problem: some people will never know they were drugged, with memory loss often a symptom. Delany warns, "if you're in a situation where there's drinking and drug use going on, you need to keep an eye on things and pay attention."
- Brazil Police Target Drug Gangs in Rio's Biggest Slum [BBC]
- Empty Homes Go to Pot in Foreclosure-Plagued Vegas [LA Times]
- Bolivia is Number One Cocaine Supplier to South American Market, Says UN [Fox News Latino]
- On Georgia Alcohol Sales, Religion Gives Way to Economics [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
- Alarm at Growing Addiction Problems Among Professionals [The Guardian]
- New Zealand Rugby Star "Ashamed" After Naked Blackout [New Zealand Herald]
- Combating Alcoholism in Dubai [Time Out Dubai]