More than half of the drivers killed in car accidents in the US have alcohol or drugs in their system when they crash, and about one in five have been using two or more drugs, according to a new study published in the Addiction journal. Researchers analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on 20,150 drivers killed accidents from 2005-2009, finding that men and night-time drivers were the most likely to have booze or drugs show up in toxicology tests afterwards: 60% of men killed were under the influence, compared with under 50% of the women. Alcohol was found most often, followed by marijuana and stimulants. However, the records didn't have enough data to tell to what extent the drivers were actually impaired, or the extent to which prescription drugs were to blame, so more research will be needed. "With alcohol, the amount of alcohol is more or less directly related to the level of behavior impairment,” says Robert Voas, who studies alcohol and highway safety at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, but wasn't part of the study. “The relationship of a drug in the body to the behavior of the driver is less direct and clear."
Indie pop singer and GQ's "Woman of the Year" Lana Del Rey has revealed that she struggled with substance abuse in her teens, and these "wilderness years" influenced her recent album, Born to Die. “I was a big drinker at the time,” she tells GQ. “I would drink every day. I would drink alone…I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else." Her worried parents sent her to boarding school in hopes it would help her kick the habit—at just 14 years old. "At first it's fine and you think you have a dark side—it's exciting—and then you realize the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it. It’s also a completely different way of living when you know that…a different species of person. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” Things seem to be on the up for the 26-year-old singer-songwriter, who appeared on Saturday Night Live in January, and is now working on her third album. Del Rey first opened up publicly about her addictions earlier this year on YouTube: when one commenter expressed thanks for her "Carmen" video, about a teenage meth addict, the star responded, "I got clean too, so I know how it goes.”
Don't call the War on Drugs a "war" to outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. "I don’t like the term 'war' because ultimately it is not about the drugs," he said in his most recent interview, at the APEC conference in Vladivostok this weekend. "What I would like is for Mexico to become a rule-of-law state where people feel safe. My priority is not to eradicate drugs, but to create a secure environment for our people and their families." Calderon, whose six-year term of office comes to an end in December—when he will be replaced by Enrique Pena Nieto—also made clear his view that the demand for drugs in the US has impeded Mexican economic growth. "The main reason for our drug trafficking problem is that the US is the main drug consumer in the world," he says. "This backfired on Mexico and many other countries. If the demand for drugs were to decrease in the US, we would indeed have fewer problems." Calderon says his administration has made progress in curbing the corruption of law enforcement agencies and re-establishing the credibility of governmental bodies. Still, he acknowledges that major problems remain: "Not only do criminal gangs smuggle drugs into the US, they also attempt to distribute them across Latin America. This leads to turf wars and breeds violence. In spite of this, last year saw a significant decline in violence and the number of murders. We are working on it, but there is still miles to go." Calderon's leadership has seen Mexico attempting to reduce its dependence on US assistance on this issue. His administration set up a large-scale database monitoring criminal activity that it shares with other Central American states, and a designated organization at a regional level is set to coordinate those efforts.
- Ryan: Medical Marijuana Should Be Up to The States [Star-Telegram]
- The FDA's New Cigarette Labels Go Up in Smoke [Wall Street Journal]
- Utah's Teen Smoking Rate Dips to Lowest Level [SF Gate]
- Financial Aid For Families of 80 Drug Addicts [The National]
- Thai Doctor: 'Sin Tax' a Boon to Thailand [Inquirer Global Nation]
- Underage One Direction Given Alcohol as a Gift [Newstalk ZB]
- Aspiring Rapper Tweets YOLO, Then Dies In Drunk Driving Car Accident [Vibe]
Drinking and drugging may seem "cool" thanks to movies like The Hangover, shows like Jersey Shore and good ol' fashioned peer pressure, but two teens are aiming to majorly amp up the appeal of sober living. Dominic Suazo and Feril Trevor Davis have seen how alcohol and drug use in the media can have a negative impact on young people—so they've founded a new clothing company called Party Sober to demonstrate that sobriety can be young, fun and hip. "People just glamorize that shit, but after going down that road and seeing how dark and scary addiction is we're trying to combat that message," Davis tells The Fix. "It's cool to live life and party sober and not need a drink or drug to be yourself." Davis says the strict "drugs-are-bad" messages transmitted through PSA's and DARE can be alienating to teens, who are more likely to listen to their own peers. "The edge we have is not being an authority figure, it's on a peer basis and not an authority figure telling them what to do," he explains. "I was told drugs were wrong and that didn't stop me. I didn't have anyone telling me what it's really like out there." Instead of demonizing drugs and alcohol, Party Sober emphasizes the coolness of clean living, in a similar vein to the Demi Lovato-approved fashion line Sober is Sexy; the clothes also provide a counterpoint to fashion statements like Urban Outfitters' recent alcohol-touting tees. Suazo and Davis plan to donate a portion of their sales to helping addicted youths get back on their feet again. Watch their full interview below:
Cries of "No more drug war!" and "Alive they took them, alive we want them!" fill the air as the Caravan For Peace sets up in New York City today. The caravan—which launched August 12 in Tijuana and will wrap up next week in Washington D.C.—aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion about non-violent solutions to the Mexican drug war. With the death toll of the drug war rising as high as 71,000, protestors hope that these activities will help people see Mexico as a neighbor, rather than a threat. "Today, we are here to show the world that the US and Mexico are calling to end the war on drugs," says Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance at a press conference to kick off the day's events. Frederique, along with other speakers, are making the point that drug addiction is a health issue, rather than a criminal issue, and should be treated as such. Local groups including VOCAL New York and Occupy Wall Street join the caravan for the NYC events, which included a vigil for victims on Thursday night and marches and demonstrations throughout the city today; crowds of New Yorkers and some out-of-towners have come out to support the Caravan as well. "Of course I don't advocate drug use," says Monica James, a student who frequently volunteers with kids, to The Fix. "But the current policies are awful, and we need to speak up about them. We need more public education on this important matter." Many involved in the caravan say the funds gained by ending the drug war could go towards education and treatment of addiction, rather then towards more violence. The caravan's other events today include a demonstration in front of HSBC Bank, a march to Zuccotti Park and a film screening.