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eating Disorders

11/15/12 10:45am

Deadly Eating Disorder Defies Definition

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Not anorexic or bulimic, but dying to be thin.
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Although anorexia and bulimia are the most well-known eating disorders, they aren't actually the most common—or the most dangerous. Of the 24 million people in the US with eating disorders (according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), up to 70% have EDNOS, which stands for "eating disorder not otherwise specified." EDNOS is a disorder that doesn't fully meet the criteria of anorexia or bulimia—although many of the symptoms are the same. The condition can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms tend to vary from one person to the next, and many sufferers look healthy—but EDNOS has a 5.2% mortality rate, which is higher than anorexia or bulimia. "It's still a misperception out there that these are relatively benign sorts of disorders or diets gone bad," says Dr. Douglas Bunnell, a clinical psychologist and vice president of The Renfrew Center. "These are life-threatening, serious illnesses. They have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis."

Many with EDNOS experience damaging health effects, such as loss of menstruation, fainting and arrhythmia. But misperceptions about the disorder can make it difficult for those who are diagnosed. Taylor is a 20-year-old who has struggled with an eating disorder since she was 12—and although calorie restriction has damaged her health, she doesn't meet the weight criteria for anorexia. "Because you only hear about bulimia and anorexia," she says, "A lot of people don't think—just because you don't meet the weight criteria, 'Oh, you don't have an eating disorder.'" For 23-year-old Ali, a combination of compulsive exercise and calorie restriction caused her to experience frequent fainting spells—but she resisted getting help, since her condition didn't fit the "mold" of conventional eating disorders. "I was just scared," she said, of her deteriorating health. "I didn't know what was happening." Both Ali and Taylor are in treatment for EDNOS, which is similar to treatment for bulimia or anorexia: the first step is to restore physical health, and the second is to focus on the psychological issues underlying the disorder.

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By May Wilkerson

Headlines

11/15/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: November 15, 2012

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Hinder's Austin Winkler went on a "really,
really dark drug binge." Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

rehab duds

11/14/12 5:01pm

Passages Launches "Luxury" Clothing Line

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Backing Passages Photo via

Passages, one of the country's most controversial rehabs, has just announced the launch of its own clothing line. Those wishing to display their Passages "pride" can now sport the Malibu rehab's logo and brand slogan—"It's Perfect"—on tees, tanks, hoodies, fleeces and yoga pants, available online at the Passages Wellness Store. “We’ve created well-fitting, high quality pieces that proudly showcase the luxury image of our brand,” announces Pax Prentiss, Passages' CEO and co-founder. His father, LA businessman Chris Prentiss, set up the high-end treatment center in 2001 to help Pax recover from a decade of addiction to alcohol, heroin and cocaine. Unlike most US rehabs, Passages is not based on a 12-step model of recovery and rejects the "disease concept" of addiction entirely. Instead, the center promotes the idea that people abuse drugs and alcohol because of “diverse ailments in the mind and body," and that addiction is "a behavioral problem that can be cured by a diverse regimen of individualized therapies." 

The notion that Passages has found a "cure" for addiction riles numerous experts. The facility boasts an 80% "cure rate" on its website—but several former clients and ex-staff dispute this number, with one claiming it's more like 10%. While the treatment model may invite skepticism, the business model is an indisputable success. One of the costliest rehabs out there—charging $80,000 a month or more at its flagship location—Passages has reportedly also earned millions from sales of its founders' heavily-criticized book, The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure. Pax Prentiss is confident the new clothing line will see similar success. “We continue to reaffirm ourselves as the undisputable leader in this industry by using high-end materials and chic designs," he says. "We’re extremely excited to see the Passages Malibu clothing take flight.”

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By May Wilkerson

Health insurance

11/14/12 4:15pm

Medicaid Boost Could Help Millions of Addicts

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Ready for a shot in the arm. Photo via

The nonprofit advocacy group Faces and Voices of Recovery hosted a webinar yesterday, outlining coming changes to the American health-care landscape as a result of Medicaid's expansion. This is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare. Under the law, in states that choose to participate (as per a Supreme Court ruling this summer), Medicaid eligibility will be extended to everyone under 65 years of age with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). At present that's $14,404 a year for an individual and $29,327 for a family of four. According to Suzanne Fields, senior advisor on health care financing for SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), "The key point from my piece of the conversation is that the Medicaid expansion will provide benefits to mental-health and substance-abuse clientele."

Who are these people? According to Fields, there are currently 37.9 million uninsured individuals who make less than 400% of the FPL. Eleven million of them, or 29%, have a behavioral health problem. Seven percent of this subset have a serious mental illness; 14.9% suffer from "serious psychological distress"; and 14.2%, or 2.6 million people, have a substance-use disorder. These 2.6 million previously uninsured alcoholics and addicts—73% of whom are male, 34% aged 18–34, and 79% white or hispanic—now will be eligible for substance-abuse treatment benefits. As Fields pointed out, structures are already in place to make this happen: "There are several vehicles by which Medicaid can cover substance-abuse programs, and those vehicles exist today." Yet another important aspect of the Medicaid expansion, she added, is "the inclusion of both mental health and substance abuse as essential benefits."

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By Hunter R. Slaton

overdose

11/14/12 3:24pm

Bon Jovi's Daughter Arrested After "Heroin OD"

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Bon Jovi and his daughter, Stephanie
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Jon Bon Jovi’s 19-year-old daughter, Stephanie Bongiovi, was arrested early this morning after allegedly overdosing on heroin. Cops responded to a dorm room at Hamilton College in upstate New York, after someone reported that Bongiovi had OD-ed and was unresponsive. They found a small amount of heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia on the scene. Bongiovi, who is currently recovering at the hospital, was arrested on misdemeanor charges for possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and criminally using drug paraphernalia. Her rocker dad also did drugs early in life—but has avoided them ever since. "I did the drug thing very young and wised up very young too, because I was into drugs a little too much," he told People in 2007. "I've never been a drug guy. I've always felt I didn't have the mental stability to handle drugs." Bongiovi is Bon Jovi’s only daughter and his oldest child with his wife, Hurley.

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By Chrisanne Grise

Legalization of Marijuana

11/14/12 2:17pm

How to Make a Mint From the Marijuana Biz

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Boom time? Photo via

Marijuana's changing legal status—with Colorado and Washington backing full legalization last week, and Massachusetts becoming the latest of 18 states (plus Washington DC) to allow medical pot—could make it the new boom market for investors to cash in on. The medical marijuana industry is already worth $1.7 billion as of 2011, and Colorado sales topped $180 million in 2010—well before full, state-level legalization. “Call it the ‘green rush,’” says Derek Peterson, CEO of GrowOp Technology, an online hydroponics retailer. “The industry is expanding, and there are all kinds of investment opportunities.” Hydroponics is just one of the ways for investors to get in on the action without actually growing or selling drugs: for example, Medbox, an OTC stock with a $45 million market cap, sells its patented dispensing machines to licensed MMJ dispensaries, which could also theoretically be used in standard drugstores. Of course, federal law still outlaws marijuana across the US. Uncertainty over the government's next moves means investors in this realm do face substantial risks. And the same is true for banks that receive requests to handle marijuana-generated profits, and could be breaking the law if they do so without telling the government. "My opinion would be, if you want to open the account, go ahead," says Richard A. Small, a former Federal Reserve deputy associate director who now handles anti-money laundering compliance at American Express Co. "But every time you take in money, you file a suspicious-activity report, because you do have a violation of the law."

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By McCarton Ackerman

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