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rags to riches

10/09/12 11:59am

Jada Pinkett Smith Thought She'd Be Dead by 21

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Smith is grateful she made it to 40. Photo via

Life wasn't always glitz and glamour for Jada Pinkett Smith. The multi-millionaire actress, the wife of multi-multi-millionaire actor Will Smith, has opened up about being raised in poverty by her drug-addicted mother and grandmother, claiming the neighborhood she grew up in was so rough that she expected to be dead by 21. "I grew up in a drug-infested neighborhood where you walk out each day and you just hope that you make it. I came from a war zone," she says. "There was a possibility that I wouldn't make it past 21—that was the reality. When I turned 40 (last year) it was a surreal moment because I had never imagined reaching 40." Her two children Willow and Jaden are both burgeoning musicians; Jada says she would be "terrified" to raise them in the environment she grew up in. "I wish to God I could have had the luxury to sit back and think, 'Mom, I want to go out and get my vocal lessons today because I have this new song that I want to write,' she says. "What I had to think about was, 'Oh man, I wonder what I'm going to eat tonight because there's no food here. How am I going to get to school? And is my mom going to be okay today? Will this be one more day she survives her addiction?' That's the kind of stuff I had to think about at 11."

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By McCarton Ackerman

Afghanistan

10/09/12 11:11am

Afghan Woman Opens Restaurant-Funded Rehab

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Customers wait for their food to arrive at
Haidari's restaurant. Photo via

In a country that has been long-tormented by drug addiction, a former filmmaker has taken a bold and innovative approach to helping fund addiction treatment. Iranian-born Afghani Laila Haidari recently opened a restaurant in Kabul, the proceeds of which will help fund the treatment center and shelter she started there: "Mother Camp". Haidari visited Kabul a year ago for a film festival, but was so stunned by the addiction she witnessed in Afghanistan's capital city that she decided to stay and help out. "I was always thinking about what I could to do help [addicts] and protect them," says Haidari, who attributes her decision to her "maternal instincts." She says finding resources and a place to set up her rehabilitation center "was not an easy task," in part due to government corruption, and further complicated by her gender; she says her husband filed for divorce when she announced her business plans. But she succeeded in opening Mother Camp last fall, and was able to sustain it thanks to the income from her restaurant, Taj Begum. She says Mother Camp has treated 400 addicts, and is currently housing 27. "It was a heartbreaking scene for me because some of the addicts never thought that a woman like me could help them,” says Haidari, who plans to staff the restaurant with recovering addicts, to offer them a chance to rebuild their lives. Afghanistan currently produces about 90% of the world’s opium, the material used in making heroin, and is home to an estimated one-million drug addicts.

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By Valerie Tejeda

headlines

10/09/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: October 9, 2012

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What would Walter White NOT do? Photo via

By The Fix staff

rock 'n Roll

10/08/12 5:09pm

Rod Stewart Was Hooked on Steroids

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Rod's got his groove back. Photo via

In his new autobiography, British rocker Rod Stewart details how he became addicted to steroids in the '90s, after medicating pain caused by singing. In the late '80s, his throat pain got so severe that "I’d walk around feeling as though I’d been gargling barbed wire," he recalls. He began taking prednisone in response, and by 1991 had "graduated to a cocktail of drugs in a syringe which I’d inject before a show, normally into my hand." He says the drugs were responsible for aggressive "typical diva" behavior—and also caused him to gain weight and develop bloated, "hamster-like" cheeks. But it wasn't until a medical emergency occurred that he finally got help. "While I was on stage, my stomach lining ruptured and I started bleeding internally. Then I began to hallucinate..." the Stewart recalls. "The next thing I knew, the insurance company’s doctor was tending to me." The "Maggie May" singer now uses an ear monitor to help him hear his own voice, which he credits for the recovery of his throat—and his career. If it wasn't for this technology, he believes: "I would have been finished as a live performer 20 years ago."

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By May Wilkerson

Medical Marijuana

10/08/12 4:20pm

Medical Pot Activists Get Their Day in Court

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Marijuana as medicine Photo via

Advocates led by Americans for Safe Access are set to go before the US Court of Appeal next week, in an attempt to change the government’s classification of marijuana. Among them is a 49-year-old Air Force veteran named Michael Krawitz. He was seriously injured while on active duty and left suffering chronic pain and a permanent disability. His condition was helped by a medical marijuana prescription he recieved while abroad—but when the Department of Veteran Affairs found out about it they denied him further treatment. Stories like Krawitz’s aren't unusual. But while the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a drug with “no medicinal value,” numerous medical organizations beg to differ: the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the Federation of American Scientists and the American Academy of Family Physicians all share beliefs that patients should have access to MMJ, that pot should be reclassified, or both. And with 56% of Americans supporting legalization, the federal government is losing allies—although both presidential candidates can console themselves that they share each other's unwillingness to discuss reform. 

This court case will mark the first time in 20 years that US courts have evaluated the therapeutic value of marijuana. "Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court," says Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access. "This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana's medical efficacy." Opening arguments for Americans for Safe Access vs. the DEA will be heard on October 16—just a few weeks before the elections. “The time has come to address medical marijuana as a public health issue," says ASA’s executive director Steph Sherer, "and for the federal government to prioritize science over politics.”

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By Tony O'Neill

Natural High

10/08/12 3:32pm

Living High, Naturally

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Soul surfer Bethany Hamilton and Natural High
founder Jon Sundt share the love with Morgan
le Fay Dreams Foundation founder and
Recovery Media chairman Paul McCulley.
Owen Osborne

More than three decades after Buck Owens and Ringo Starr famously sang about how to Act Naturally, Saturday night in La Jolla, CA saw a celebration of living that way. The 12th annual fundraising gala for Natural High honored young people who move beyond just saying "no" to alcohol and drugs—and say "yes" to their natural high. It was about finding joy in embracing life, naturally: from singing to surfing, reading to racing, dancing to drawing. The Natural High movement (which featured on The Fix a year ago) grew out of the tragedy of founder Jon Sundt's life: he lost his two brothers to addiction, sucked in by peer pressure to see drugs as "cool." Natural High's signature DVD series features young celebs living very cool lives—on natural highs, not drugs. It's distributed free to every middle and high school in the US, with a companion curriculum for teachers and counselors, and reached some 6 million young people last year. Five DVDs have so far been produced, spotlighting celebrities from skateboard maestro Tony Hawk to actress and model Lauren Conrad, of Laguna Beach fame.

"Soul" surfer Bethany Hamilton will feature in Number Six of this series—and she was guest of honor Saturday night. Hamilton continues to say "no" to drugs and "yes" to soaring the waves—even after a tiger shark took her left arm. More than 400 guests at the Hilton hotel at Torrey Pines reached deep in their pockets, raising some $300,000 (after expenses) to bring the Natural High program to America's schools again this year, louder than ever. They also celebrated Teachers of the Year carrying the Natural High message: Justin Prati of Columbus, Ohio and Shannon Garcia of Rancho Buena, CA. Why act naturally when you can live it?

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By Owen Osborne

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