The blossoming friendship between Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen—both of whom have of course publicly and dramatically battled addiction, paparazzi and other demons—may come as no surprise. But the Warlock has reportedly gone way above and beyond to support his new pal: cutting her a $100,000 check to ease her tax problems. The two bonded earlier this year as co-stars on the set of Scary Movie 5; when Lohan told Sheen about her debt of over $233,000 from unpaid taxes in 2009 and 2010, he apparently offered to foot the bill. Although LiLo reportedly refused, her business manager has revealed that a $100,000 check arrived from Sheen anyway last week, and that that the money was immediately put towards paying off her taxes. Although Lohan is set to clear over $2 million this year from endorsement deals, appearances and various movie projects, she reportedly still has a mountain of legal bills from ongoing court appearances; she also seems to be her family's sole breadwinner. Sheen's gift may provide her with some consolation for the apparent flop of her Lifetime movie Liz and Dick, which premiered last night to terrible reviews. Far from boosting Lohan's faltering screen career, it's been described as a "dinky, tin-eared production" by Entertainment Weekly, and "lifeless" by the Washington Post. The San Francisco Chronicle says LiLo's performance ranges from "barely adequate to terrible."
Video games are just as addictive as gambling and alcohol, new research suggests. Olivia Metcalf, a graduate student at Australian National University, studied gaming as part of her PhD program. She's demonstrated that excessive gamers, just like heroin, alcohol and gambling addicts, have "attentional bias"—meaning an inability to stop thinking about their habit and focus on other tasks. "We didn't find that pattern in people who play video games but don't experience any negative symptoms," says Metcalf. "So it's not something that occurs because you do a behavior a lot. It's some sort of change that occurs in your attention system, in your brain, when an addiction is developing. We found this core sign of addiction in these thinking systems of these people who play games excessively."
Her research is being hailed as the first scientific evidence that video games can be truly addictive. She presented around 20 excessive gamers with a series of words, asking them to respond to the color of the word, rather than the meaning, and found that (unlike a group of non-gamers) they performed the task more slowly when gaming-related words were involved. "We know that people are gaming excessively but we're not sure yet what type of problem that is," says Metcalf. "There's a lot of speculation that it's an addiction and what we need is this scientific evidence and that's what my research has found. It's found really good objective indicators that excessive gamers are displaying signs of an addiction and that's the first step to lead us to developing treatment and therapies to help those individuals." She notes that only a minority of gamers suffer such negative consequences: "We're really just focusing on helping this minority of individuals who are experiencing negative problems and to make sure that video games stay fun for them. We want video games to stay fun and enjoyable and entertaining for everybody."
- Mexico's President Calls the Drug Trade "Impossible to End" [Washington Post]
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Damage on Brain Defined in New Study [Examiner]
- Question Marks Over Thailand’s New Approach to Drug Users [Jakarta Globe]
- Heroin Hits "Cementing" of India−Pakistan Trade [New York Daily News]
- A Vaccine to Curb Addicts' Highs [Wall Street Journal]
- Smoking 'Rots' Your Brain [BBC]
Although gratitude is nominally central to Thanksgiving, for many folks, the focus is more on food, football and defusing or at least deflecting family feuds. Being truly thankful, however, is strongly linked with both mental and physical health—and cultivating it can help relieve stress, depression, addictions and other afflictions.
Many of us may critique AA from time to time, but the gratitude list, and the emphasis on counting your blessings, is powerful and important medicine.
This Thanksgiving, a group called Moms United to End the War on Drugs hopes to raise awareness by getting families impacted by drugs to take a snapshot of an empty seat at the table. These photos are meant to symbolize any family members missing because of a connection to drugs—whether they are suffering from an addiction, locked up in prison or living on the streets. "My son was born in 1971, the same year that President Nixon declared war on drugs," says Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director and co-founder of Moms United To End The War on Drugs and A New PATH. "And since that time it's been really devastating, not just to families but to our whole community in terms of loss of life, loss of liberty, we're stigmatizing and criminalizing people who use drugs or have addictive illness like my sons do." Her two sons have both struggled with drugs and subsequent stigmas within the family, and now she hopes this campaign can help improve the situation. “One in four families are dealing with addictive illness and now that means so many more are also dealing with the criminal justice system,” Bergman says. “But because it’s so highly stigmatized, they’re not speaking about it. So we’re inviting them to speak out. Because I think mothers together…are able to change laws and policies for the sake and the health and wellbeing of their families.” The group invites anyone whose families have been impacted by addiction to take their own atypical holiday photo and send it in.
Reader's Question: How did you feel admitting you were an alcoholic to your parents/family? Personally, I find this to be the scariest part of "coming out" in regards to my alcoholism and have yet to do so. There would be so much embarrassment and shame on my part, as well as the difficulty socializing with them when drinking is such a key component during family gatherings.
[Jane is now exclusively answering your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to email@example.com.]