Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington plays an alcoholic, cocaine-snorting airline pilot in his new film, Flight, which premiered last night in LA. His character, who "lies, manipulates people, [and] drinks too much," successfully lands a plane in a storm and is revered as a hero—until it's discovered that he was heavily intoxicated during the landing. "He does try for the first two or three days right after the crash, to not drink," explains the actor. "Then when he finds out what the consequences are, he walks unfortunately right past a bar. One leads to 100." Washington hopes his character's struggles—which are hardly unknown among real-life pilots—will resonate with anyone touched by addiction, and "spark different conversation" from some of his other work. The film features recovery, too—both on and off the screen. The pilot's friend and drug dealer is a recovering heroin addict played by John Goodman, who reveals that alcoholism "is something I came to terms with five years ago, and with daily grace I'm still sober."
Many of us love the buzz we feel after a good workout. But some exercise for hours, day after day, to try to keep hold of that feeling. For Cynthia, a 24-year-old woman from California, exercise became much more than just a way to stay in shape. “I became addicted to the feeling I got after a workout,” she tells The Fix. “I had to get my daily high and make it last as long as I could.” At the peak of her problem, Cynthia was exercising for eight hours a day, and was obsessed with knowing everything about celebrity workouts in particular. “It worked out perfect 'cause I was working in retail in the evenings, so I would get up early and exercise for eight hours before my shift,” Cynthia explains. “I would also buy any magazine I could find that had any mention of a celebrity workout so I could learn about new and unique ways to exercise. Sometimes I would leave Barnes & Noble with over 10 magazines.” Though Cynthia was obsessed with fitness, she wasn't watching her calories, or throwing up her food: “I would eat like a horse just so I could exercise as much as I wanted, so I could that high.”
Dr. Lynn Williams, a clinical psychologist in Florida who specializes in exercise addiction, says dependence on exercise is not that uncommon. “Many studies have demonstrated that exercise can indeed become a dependency for those persons who spend several hours a day devoted to exercise,” she tells The Fix. This behavior can have damaging long-term effects on your body. “Society perceives exercise to always be a positive thing, however, excessive amounts of exercise builds up tolerance to certain hormones and neurotransmitters which then requires more exercise to yield the same physical and psychological effects,” Dr. Williams explains. “The body needs to have time to repair itself because exercise breaks down muscle fibers.” She adds that sometimes people who participate in extreme endurance sports—such as triathletes or marathon runners—will get hooked on the feeling exercise gives them: “They do not hesitate to share that they 'need that daily fix' or they feel 'down or depressed' if they skip a day.”
Although many health professionals are seeing patients with this problem, exercise "addiction" isn't yet listed as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Cynthia found it hard to find treatment that focused purely on exercise dependence. “Every place I looked into mainly focused on eating disorders, and I really didn’t have a problem with food,” she explains. “Eventually I got the treatment I needed, and now I only exercise an hour a day, which for me is amazing.” She adds: “I also stay completely away from magazines, certain websites, or anything can entice those obsessive feelings. I feel like I’ve found a good balance.”
Britney Spears' former manager Sam Lufti has denied in court that he ever gave the pop star Adderall or helped fuel her former amphetamine addiction. The allegation was made by Spears' parents Jamie and Lynn Spears, who claim that Lufti manipulated and took advantage of the singer during the peak of her meltdown in 2007, cutting her off from family and drugging her food. Lufti filed a lawsuit in response, claiming the accusations destroyed his career and that he was also never compensated the guaranteed 15% of the pop star's gross monthly earnings, roughly $120,000 a month, as The Fix reported, for being her manager. Lufti told the judge that he has a prescription for Adderall to treat his own ADD, but never gave Spears any of his meds; he claims that she simply abused her own prescription.
Lufti also testified that the singer was a "habitual, frequent and continuous" user of drugs and alcohol, and that he actually made various attempts to save her, including bringing drug-sniffing dogs to her home and flushing a bag of white powder down the toilet. His lawyer Joseph Schleimer alleged in his opening statement last Thursday that not only did Spears OD on amphetamines the night she was strapped to a stretcher and sent to a mental hospital in January 2008, but that her infamous head-shaving incident was an attempt to rid traces of drugs from her hair follicles. Lufti has also fired back at Lynne and Jamie's accusations that he lacked the entertainment industry experience or qualifications to manage Britney, claiming he was the associate producer for a Ben Affleck project and is currently Courtney Love's co-manager. Britney is still under a conservatorship and won't be allowed to appear as a witness at the trial.
As drug cartels continue to hold sway in cities, towns and regions across Mexico, one Mexican Indian community is fighting back. Santa Maria Urapicho, a Purepecha Indian town in western Mexico, has taken the drastic measure of arming residents with pistols and rifles to combat threats from suspected members of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug gang. They even reportedly killed the gang's boss, Mauricio Cuitlahuac Hernandez, last August. A Purepecha community leader, speaking anonymously, says that because the federal and state governments have failed to intervene, Los Caballeros Templarios is now trying to gain control of the town in retaliation. "Our people have never allowed such a situation and now we are on the defensive to be on guard and avoid having anyone in this town harmed," says the leader. "We are waiting for organizations in other places to take an interest in our problems, in our situation; they could give us a hand in whatever form possible." For the time being, residents are keeping weapons in their homes and also setting up barricades in an attempt to control access to the town. Many of the Purepechas who work in other communities have also quit their jobs to stay home and help strengthen their community's defenses.
- Uruguay Plans to Legalize Marijuana Under State Monopoly [The Guardian]
- Diabetes Drug May Prove to Be a Successful Treatment for Addiction [Medical Daily]
- Pot Ballot Question Under Fire at Boston Rally [Lowell Sun]
- Missing Immigrants From Central America Sought By Caravan Of Mothers [Huffington Post]
- New Documentary Takes on the US Drug War [New York Review of Books]
- LeAnn Rimes Out of Rehab: 'I'm Starting Over' [HLN]
- Dwight Howard Has Never Been Drunk, Has Only Boozed Once [NESN]
Arkansas may seem an unlikely venue for legal medical marijuana, but a determined group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care is pushing hard for just that. They've succeeded in getting the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act—or "Issue 5"—onto the ballot for November 6. If passed, it would allow Arkansas residents with qualifying medical conditions to buy and use pot, establishing "a system for the cultivation, acquisition and distribution of marijuana...through nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries and granting those nonprofit dispensaries limited immunity." It's a long way, then, from being the most radical state marijuana policy on offer next month. But Arkansas has deep conservative roots. The latest Talk Business-Hendrix College poll shows 54% of respondents opposing Issue 5, with 38% in favor and 8% undecided. That represents a recent swing away from MMJ: a poll in late July showed a much tighter race, with 47% in favor and 46% against. So why the change? “There has been a very effective earned media effort from law enforcement and conservative groups since this measure made the ballot," says Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock.
Chris Kell, the campaign strategist for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, tells The Fix that he believes the latest poll figures are "temporary," and caused by the fact that "the opposition is very well organized, with a well-oiled propaganda machine." He denounces one recent TV commercial for the No campaign as "pretty unbelievable—full of misinformation and stereotypes" and "making out we're going to get drug dealers and full legalization." His organization plans to combat such "scare tactics" through a network of volunteers dispensing information, a new Facebook page debunking opponents' claims, a paid media campaign just kicking in, and support from public figures like Montel Williams. "The poll numbers won't reflect all this yet," Kell argues. Standing in line yesterday to cast his early vote in "a pretty conservative county," he says—and throughout 10 years' experience in Arkansas politics—"about the only people I've heard come out against it are our opponents." We'll soon know how accurate this impression was.