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5/18/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 18, 2012

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Tyra is taking a stand. Photo via

By Reina Berger

Alcoholism Cures

5/17/12 5:40pm

The "Eight-Week Herbal Cure" for Alcoholism

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Was the answer as simple as that? Photo via

An 84% success rate? Eight weeks of liquid herbal solutions and you’re done? Most of us know that alcohol treatment come-ons like this are nonsense—the one-year abstinence rate of the best known programs never approaches 84%, and no responsible recovery center promises to “cure” you of alcoholism in eight weeks. To complicate matters, "Last Call," the company in question, is basing this astounding claim on the use of a substance called daidzin, an organic ingredient of the kudzu vine: “The Last Call Program is an 8-week at-home, do-it-yourself program that has been proven to help you reduce your desire to over-drink alcohol with ease—no willpower needed.”

It doesn’t get any better than that, now, does it? But before you call BS, consider that kudzu, the organic treatment in question, is being studied intensely at Harvard Medical School and its affiliate, McLean Hospital, for its anti-alcohol properties. And while Last Call has clearly jumped the gun, the research behind their overblown claims is quite compelling. Commenting on a study just published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal, its lead author Dr. David Penetar of McLean Hospital said that his group had discovered “further evidence that components found in kudzu root can reduce alcohol consumption and do so without adverse side effects.” Subjects in the study were installed in an “apartment” and allowed to drink as much beer as they wanted. But those taking puerarin—a major ingredient in kudzu root—drank significantly fewer beers. While Penetar didn't say that puerarin would stop people from drinking, he stated that “their rate of consumption decreased… it appears to slow the pace and the overall amount consumed.”

Last Call’s kudzu concoction is called Sobrexa, and while scientists still aren’t sure how kudzu works, investigators believe it may prevent alcohol-induced dopamine surges in the brain’s pleasure center. So, will Sobrexa cure your drinking in two months? Probably not. But keep your eye on more sober pronouncements based on continuing Kudzu research. This is one herbal treatment that may have legs.

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By Dirk Hanson

Alcohol laws

5/17/12 5:10pm

Strip Club Booze Tax to Fund Rape Centers

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A "skin tax" is imminent. Photo via

Strip clubs with liquor licenses would have to charge admission fees or pay more in taxes under a "skin tax" bill passed unanimously yesterday by the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee. The money raised under the measure sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson would fund rape crisis counseling centers. While it is not a law yet, the measure has the support of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who testified by saying: "Sexually-orientated businesses contribute to objectifying and exploiting women. There's been a strong, scientific recognition that when you associate those industries with alcohol, that there's a substantial effect there, an increase in crime, particularly sexual assault." If the bill were to pass, Illinois strip clubs that sell or allow alcohol would have two options: either pay a $3 per patron surcharge—likely be passed on to customers at the door—or pay a flat rate based on their taxable income. Clubs that don't serve alcohol would be exempt from the tax. Al Ronan, the Chicago lobbyist representing the clubs, argued that raising the tax would only hurt the economy. "We wholeheartedly support the need to fund these types of centers," he said. "[But] it's still a tax on businesses that pay a lot of taxes already." The strip clubs themselves stayed neutral on the legislation; the bill now goes to the state senate for a vote.

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By Chrisanne Grise

women and addiction

5/17/12 4:33pm

Do Women Relapse for Different Reasons?

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Dr. David Sack, expert on addiction...and
women? Photo via

An article over at PsychCentral by David Sack, MD—an eminent addiction psychiatrist and CEO of some well-known addiction treatment programs like LA's Promisesstates that women face a different set of challenges from men when it comes to staying in recovery. But is recovery really much different for women than it is for men? Here are Dr. Sack's "Top 5 Reasons Women Relapse":

1) Getting into Romantic Relationships Too Soon

Sack claims women are more likely than men to relapse as a result of romantic ups-and-downs: "until their new coping mechanisms are securely in place, it is not unusual for relapse to follow every time a relationship goes wrong."

2) Unrecognized Love, Relationship or Sex Addiction

Women are allegedly more apt to “transfer” their addiction to the realm of relationships, substituting in a sex or love addiction when they give up drugs. For women especially, says Sack, "the challenge of being alone, feeling worthless or unloved when not in a relationship, or needing the attention of prospective partners to boost self-esteem can all point to a deeper issue of sex and relationship addiction."

3) Undiagnosed Psychiatric Disorders

Undiagnosed psychiatric disorders may pose more of a threat to women, because negative feelings and depressed mood commonly cause them to relapse, whereas men are apparently more likely to “relapse as a result of positive emotional states.”

4) Stigma and Lack of Support

Women are likely to have greater care-giving responsibilities than men, and may therefore feel more pressure to return home to their families after rehab. Jumping back into old roles and routines may make it hard to stay sober.

5) Inadequate Coping Skills

Women, claims Dr. Sack, demonstrate “poorer coping skills” than men. In the absence of drugs and alcohol, he feels women may have special difficulty finding new, healthy ways to manage stress. 

Despite these potential threats to their recovery, Sack says that women's strengths include being more likely to engage in group counseling and "more willing to admit a problem" and subsequently, women are less likely to relapse overall than men, he claims.

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By Sarah Beller

missing persons

5/17/12 3:01pm

Drug-Addled Actor Nick Stahl Is Missing

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Stahl, with wife Rose, was last seen May 9th.
Photo via

Nick Stahl, the actor best known for playing young John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, has been reported as missing, and his estranged wife, Rose Murphy, suspects drugs may have played a role in his disappearance. The 32-year-old actor was last seen on May 9th, according to the police report filed by Murphy, and sources say he had been frequenting Skid Row in Los Angeles lately. LAPD officials said officers in the area have been given copies of his photo and are keeping watch for him. This is not the first occasion that Stahl's drug habits have been an issue; Murphy filed court papers in February, asking that his visitations with their 2-year-old daughter be limited, and asked for proof that he had not used drugs within 24 hours of seeing her. Stahl's career spans over 20 years and included roles in movies like The Thin Red Line and Sin City. He took over the role of John Connor in the Terminator franchise from Edward Furlong, who also struggled with a drug addiction after starring in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Stahl's rep declined to comment on the situation.

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By Chrisanne Grise

boozing Brits

5/17/12 1:53pm

Booze Causes One in Eight UK Deaths Under 64

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Brits need to challenge this stereotype. Photo via

The UK is officially drinking itself to death. A conference of addiction specialists from across the world at Newcastle University revealed that one in eight deaths of British adults under the age of 64 is a result of excessive drinking. The event's organizers are now calling for a UK ban on advertising alcohol, and for the rest of the country to follow Scotland by setting a minimum price per unit on alcoholic drinks. "Alcohol costs the UK so much in so many ways, both in financial and social impacts," says Professor Eileen Kaner, director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University. "Governments need to have a clear and unbiased view of the most up-to-date research on alcohol problems and be bolder about tackling some of the root causes such as overly cheap alcohol and irresponsible marketing that encourages heavy drinking." Alcohol consumption across Europe is more than double the global average and the social cost of alcohol abuse has been estimated at around $380 per year per European—with the annual bill for Britain's National Health Service alone over $4.2 billion.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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