One addiction treatment program is trying something new: computer software to help recovering addicts improve their cognitive skills through online gaming. The St. Gregory Retreat Center, located in DesMoines, Iowa, believes computer games may improve brain functioning and assist in the recovery process. By logging into My Brain Solutions (or grabbing some of their free mobile apps), recovering addicts can not only play games that sharpen focus and improve memory; they can apparently boost positivity, self-confidence and emotional sensitivity as well. “When you are in an addictive world, reality changes because of drug use,” Brain Resource, Inc. CEO Gregory A. Bayer tells The Fix. “Self-control is lost because of serial problems and and inability to solve them, and loss of self-confidence comes with degradation of confidence and cognitive flexibility. The world becomes a lot narrower, and they become focused on a smaller world with smaller opportunities.” In one game, patients must catch bubbles with positive words—either a positive green bubble or a negative red one—to teach them to recognize opportunity and negativity that could be applied to any context. While the brain training technology has been used for employee wellness programs at companies like Cisco and Nationwide, Bayer tells us he's excited that My Brain Solutions is now aiming to help recovering addicts.
A 73-year-old Oklahoma grandmother was arrested Monday and charged with running a lucrative marijuana ring spanning four states. Police unearthed four pounds of pot and a semiautomatic weapon in Darlene Mayes' rural Craig County home, along with $276,000 in cash hidden in her mattress. Mayes claimed to be saving the money for her retirement fund; but cops believe she has been trafficking pot for up to two decades. Allegedly, she has been responsible for about 40% of the growing pot trade in the city of Tulsa and parts of neighboring Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. The massive operation was a family affair—one of her many dealers was her son, Jerry Dorsey, who was arrested Monday for possession with intent to distribute. "She was one of the tops of the totem pole in this area for northeastern Oklahoma," said Vinita Police Chief Bobby Floyd. "I think she was a big factor in the drug trade."
She’s not letting a little thing like a DUI slow her down: Despite being jailed (not to mention publicly humiliated) for driving under the influence last week, former teen star Amanda Bynes is keeping her nightlife as busy as ever, as she was spotted clubbing in Los Angeles for the second time since her arrest. Paparazzi spotted that while Bynes was trying to exit the parking lot, she drove over a curb. She was also sending a text at the time.
After Courtney Love took to Twitter to claim that Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl attempted to seduce her teenage daughter, Frances Bean, the younger Cobain struck back with an official statement: “While I’m generally silent on the affairs of my biological mother, her recent tirade has taken a gross turn… Twitter should ban my mother.”
- The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson: Lower the Drinking Age! [The Huffington Post]
Photographs of underage Hunger Games star Alexander Ludwig leaving a Hollywood nightclub prompted an investigation by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. But the film’s male lead, Josh Hutcherson, says he thinks the drinking age should be lowered, anyway. “I think the age to go to war is 18, so I think the drinking age should be 18 as well,” he explained. Logical—but is it wise?
Despite her family’s best wishes, Whitney Houston’s 19-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, has reached an agreement with an as-yet-unnamed cable network to star in a reality show, with a deal to be finalized shortly. Sources claim that Brown was “impaired” during her meetings with the network to discuss the show.
- Is Jersey Shore’s The Situation Battling Sex Addiction? [Reality Tea]
As if Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino didn’t have enough problems starring on a show like Jersey Shore, sources are now alleging that he’s also sorting through sex addiction in addition to his rumored cocaine and prescription drug abuse. “He has a really dark side and a lot of demons,” a source said. Join the club, Mike!
The brother of Thomas Kinkade claims that the painter of angelic scenes battled demons. The 54-years-old's death last week allegedly followed a relapse, after a long struggle with alcoholism. Known as "the painter of light," Kinkade's bucolic nature scenes and quaint pastorals adorn dentists' offices, coffee mugs and calendars across the country. But the serenity of his paintings seems to reflect a reality far from his tormented personal life. Despite fetching up to $100 million a year in sales, Kinkade's syrupy works were openly despised by the art world. And he suffered under the contempt of his critics, says his brother Patrick Kinkade, a professor at Texas Christian University. "As much as he said it didn't bother him, in his heart deep down inside it would sadden him that people would criticize so hatefully his work and his vision." Patrick says his brother battled alcoholism over the past half-decade—in 2006, the LA Times reported that he drunkenly assaulted a woman at a book-signing, and urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh at a Disney Hotel. Kinkade had supposedly been sober for some time but is said to have relapsed shortly before he died at his home in Montesereno California last Friday. "Apparently he's been drinking all night and not moving," a dispatcher is heard saying on a recording from the day of his death. Kinkade's girlfriend, Amy Pinto, offers a contrasting account, claiming he "died in his sleep, very happy, in the house he built, with the paintings he loved, and the woman he loved.”
A video mockumentary that features children as kidnappers, corrupt cops and drug traffickers is stirred a raging drug war-related controversy in Mexico. Titled "Ninos Incomidos," or "Discomforting Kids," the four-minute film shows boys firing machine guns from huge SUV's and a kiddie-version of alleged drug lord Edgar Valdez being dragged off to an overcrowded jail by kiddie cops. It was funded by private companies and universities with the aim of sending a strong political message to the candidates in Mexico's July 1 presidential election: a little girl facing the camera declares: "If this is the future that awaits me, I don't want it. Enough of working for your political parties instead of for us. Enough of cosmetic changes." The video has won support on both sides of the political spectrum, including leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and conservative National Action Party candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota (from the same party as current president Felipe Calderon). But not everyone is happy. Congressman Miguel Angel Garcia Granados objects to the video's use of children and called on Calderon to ban it, while TV critic and newspaper columnist Alvaro Cueva brands the video manipulative, and a "very clear violation of the (electoral) law."
Manipulating addicts' memories may be a way to treat drug addiction with out pharmaceuticals, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The research—built on an earlier study from New York University—focused on a simple behavioral procedure that reduced the cravings of heroin addicts and may even prevent relapse. "We used a very simple classical conditioning paradigm in which a blue square was paired with a mild electric shock to the wrist," said lead researcher Liz Phelps. The participants then associated the blue square with the shocks, which would lead to a fearful response when looking at the square. After the classic conditioning sessions, the participants were then shown the square with out receiving any shocks, this is called extinction procedures. "We did the extinction training during reconsolidation, and what seems to have happened is that we somehow updated the old fear memory," says Phelps. "In those particular subjects we didn't see any evidence of the fear memory returning. We brought the subjects back a year later and showed that the fear did not come back in the group that got extinction during reconsolidation." The results of the study show that the memory retrieval-extinction procedure could be a non-pharmacological method for tackling drug addiction and preventing relapse, which helped the development of a new procedure in development that, like extinguishing the blue square's fear response, will eliminate the association of paraphernalia and its usage with a high.