In the world of scripted television, there's a slew of interesting actors playing many interesting characters, but few have overlapped as spectacularly as Edie Falco’s titular antihero Jackie Peyton on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, which entered its fourth season yesterday. Jackie has been an active drug addict for the entire run of the show. But now with her character newly-sober, Falco will be taking Peyton in a new direction—one that might echo Falco’s own experience as a sober woman with 20 years in recovery. In an interview with Slate, Falco talks about about the harsh realities of addiction, the consequences of which haven’t always been treated with suitable gravity on the show: “Addiction has had such an impact on my life and the people I love, and there really is not a lot about it that is funny.” She also opens up about her own past bouts of workaholism, which she claims is an addiction like any other. Whether the disease takes the form of snorting pills or working yourself to the bone, addictive behavior springs from the same source. “An addict is an addict,” she says. “If they’re not acting out in one area, it tends to come out in another.” Wise words.
When the drunk bus—that strobe-lit, retrofitted shuttle-bus hot mess-on-the-go—became an integral part of the American nightlife scene, was it ever in doubt that its photographic negative, the hangover bus, was close behind? It's come to pass in Las Vegas (where else?), where a new service called Hangover Heaven is launching this Saturday. Started by Duke grad anesthesiologist Dr. Jason Burke, Hangover Heaven is a mobile battlefield med unit for bros and bro-ettes who raged too hard the night before, and now need a high-test hangover remedy—delivered intravenously. Hangover Heaven currently offers two packages, with pick-ups at casinos all along the Strip: the Redemption ($90; just IV hydration) and the Salvation ($150; hydration plus IV anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea meds, plus IV vitamin supplements). According to one true believer who appears in a strangely dead-serious video promo for Hangover Heaven [below], it really works: “My hangover is absolutely gone,” the spiky-haired, still-puffy partier testifies. “No more nausea, no more headache. I’m ready to go back out.” The nation thanks you, Hangover Heaven, for patching up our boys in blue (or other shades of shiny, untucked “going-out” shirts) and getting them back out into the fist-pumping fray.
America's burgeoning billion-dollar drug testing industry is allegedly rife with corruption. In the latest case, Calloway Laboratories, a Massachusetts drug testing lab, is to pay $20 million to settle allegations of an elaborate kickback scheme including fake drug tests, phony companies and forged signatures. Calloway Labs were indicted in 2010 for bribing sober living houses to administer unnecessary urine tests to their residents. The testing was funded by Medicaid, and ultimately cost the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) millions of dollars in what Attorney General Martha Coakley has called "one of the most egregious abuses of the Medicaid program our office has handled." The Calloway settlement is the seventh to result so far from Massachusetts' investigation into corruption in the drug testing industry. Howard Appel, president of Millennium Laboratories, another drug testing company, claims fraudulent schemes and bribery are rampant in the industry, and that many companies use "smoke and mirrors" tactics to beat competition. "What you see is a proliferation of labs opening up that in trying to get a foothold in the business will offer anything, say anything and do anything to try to induce physicians to getting their business," Appel told American News Report. Ironically, Millennium was accused by Calloway of using fraudulent billing codes; the lawsuit was dismissed in February.
Guatemala's Mara Salvatrucha street gang is reportedly merging with Mexico's paramilitary Zetas cartel to dominate drug trafficking in Central America. Leaders of the two infamous organizations have allegedly held talks in prison about how to join forces and control trafficking routes between South America and the US; authorities say they've recorded these discussions. The Zetas have already encroached into the Northern Guatemalan countryside by collaborating with local drug kingpins, and reports say they've begun training the Maras in paramilitary techniques, as well as providing equipment. A small group of Maras are already believed to have been trained by Zetas at a camp in Mexico, and Zetas members have been heard talking about recruiting 5,000 more Maras. Meanwhile the Maras have apparently provided the Zetas with intelligence and committed crimes to divert law enforcement resources. Eduardo Velasco, head of an Interior Ministry task force in Guatemala, has seen increasing levels of organization and violence among the Maras. "As a result of this union with the Zetas, the Mara Salvatrucha have more ability to organize, strategize and maneuver," he says. "The Mara Salvatrucha want to build up their inventory of long-range weapons, grenades and drugs for their own use and for sale... they know the economic benefit is great for them and that the Zetas, as an outside group, need the Maras' network in order to grow inside Guatemala."
Having a DUI can be enough of an inconvenience, but repeat DUI offenders in Missoula County, Montana are about to become the latest in the state to be required to give up their lives to the court system. The "24/7 Sobriety Act," which was launched in South Dakota and has been replicated in a dozen counties in Montana since last October, forces repeat offenders to take twice-daily breath tests on site at local testing centers to prove they're sober. The tests come at the offenders' expense, with participants paying $3 per breath test, $10 per drug screen, or $10 a day for an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet or a visual breath test done from home. Skipping a test means the county will put out an arrest warrant, while flunking a test means you go directly to jail. “The intent of the 24/7 sobriety program is not only to keep repeat DUI offenders off our streets, and keeping our streets safer, but to enact a cultural change and a behavioral change in repeat DUI offenders,” says Justice Department spokesman John Doran. “That’s the real basis of success–changing behavior.” Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech says that she will also occasionally bring first-time DUI offenders into the program “to see if somebody has an issue with alcohol that might translate to what’s known as an addiction.” But given Montana's geography, an ankle bracelet is also an option for offenders who live far from local testing centers.
To mark the video release of the so-real-it-hurt movie on sex addiction, Shame, some of the world's leading sex addiction experts will be hosting a screening and panel discussion. On April 17 at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, Clinical Director of the Center for Healthy Sex Alex Katehakis, Logo TV's Bad Sex host Chris Donahue and Love Addict: Sex, Romance and Other Dangerous Drugs author Ethlie Ann Vare will be discussing sex addiction as it's displayed in the film. "I love the idea of combining cinema and psychology to get people thinking about the cultural problems we face and how cultural and psychological forces co-create how we're evolving as human beings," says Katehakis, who is also the author of the sexual sobriety tome Erotic Intelligence. "I'm hoping this event inspires people to take SLAA more seriously, identify it in their friends and family so as to encourage them to get help, and for therapists to pay more attention to the signs and symptoms." Tickets can be purchased in advance here.