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sober stars

4/27/12 5:00pm

Samuel L. Jackson Says Sobriety Carried His Career

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I'll have what he's having. Photo via

Samuel L. Jackson's films have grossed $8 billion over the years, with the many blockbuster hits on his resume including Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park and the Star Wars trilogy. And the 64-year-old actor recently declared that getting sober 20 years ago significantly enhanced his acting abilities, leading to the pinnacle performances of his career. Jackson, who lost his father to alcoholism, says his drug use began in the late Seventies when he performed in NYC's acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. "I fancied myself as Oliver Reed...I drank and I used drugs," says Jackson. I liked the feeling of not being cognizant of what was going on around me. I was working the whole time. I rehearsed and performed on drugs. I went on stage and watched people’s eyes roll across stage and I’d go, ‘Oh, I have a line, OK got to focus on the play now.’” The turning point came when his wife Latanya and daughter Zoe came home to find him passed out drunk on the kitchen floor with cocaine he had cooked himself. “When I looked up, LaTanya and Zoe were standing there," he recalls. "The cocaine was cooked but I’d never smoked it. That was the first time LaTanya realised I was doing something that was greater than just smoking weed and drinking.” Jackson checked into rehab immediately after that. And two weeks after finishing treatment, he filmed his breakout performance as a crack addict in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. And while Jackson hasn't relapsed since, he admits that he still gets plenty of offers. “I hang out with people who smoke weed on the golf course, I’ve been in rooms with big plates of cocaine. When I was drinking nobody offered me fucking Cristal, now I’ve got bottles of it in my house that people keep giving me." But still, "My wife doesn’t worry about me opening those bottles.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

Rehab Review

4/27/12 4:04pm

Rehab Review Adds Five More

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Benchmark Recovery Center, one of The Fix's
newly reviewed rehabs. Photo via

This week The Fix expanded its Rehab Review yet again, this time adding five new insider reviews of drug and alcohol treatment centers in places as varied as Texas, San Francisco, Arizona—and even Costa Rica.

The two Lone Star State rehabs include an updated review for Santé Center for Healing—which you may have seen on A&E’s Intervention—as well as a review of the Big Book–focused, new-to-The-Fix facility Benchmark Recovery Center. In Flagstaff, Arizona, Back2Basics Outdoor Adventures is like Outward Bound for addicts, treating young men with lots of AA meetings and time in the wilderness. Whole Recovery in Costa Rica takes a holistic tack, treating brain, body and spirit in an unmatched setting of jungle, waterfalls, volcanos, sea and sand. Last but not least, Alta Mira, situated on San Francisco Bay, is a luxury rehab with more of an open mind than some when it comes to treatment.

The Fix’s Rehab Reviews are unique in that they are made up of independent, fact-checked accounts and experiences from real people who have gotten sober—or not—at these places. If you want to get the dirt about what 90 days at a particular treatment center is going to be like—look no further. Interested in getting your rehab reviewed by The Fix? Email Rehab Review Editor Hunter Slaton.

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By Hunter R. Slaton

drug policy

4/27/12 3:10pm

Obama Owns Up to War on Weed

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Obama makes his case to Rolling Stone. Photo via

So much for Obama's drug policy softening. Just a week after the White House said their drug policy will eschew punishment for addicts in favor of treatment and prevention, the President has admitted to Rolling Stone that he was responsible for the federal Justice Department's crackdown on California's state-legal medical marijuana industry. His rationale is that he never made a promise to ignore federal law, and even if he did, he can't, because Congressnot the White Housemakes the laws. "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuanaand the reason is, because it's against federal law," says Obama. "The only tension that's come upand this gets hyped up a lotis a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users."

However, while Obama says that there haven't been prosecutions for medicinal marijuana use, this seems to be contradicted by the case of Scott Feil, a former MMJ dispensary operator who is currently incarcerated in a privately run federal prison in Taft. Several marijuana advocacy groups have also criticized the President's explanation for not being elaborate enough. "President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office," write Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans For Safe Access. "US Attorneys have made little reference to targeting medical marijuana businesses because they're allegedly selling to non-patients. The prevailing excuse has been simply that dispensaries are federally illegal or that they are too close to schools and other so-called "sensitive uses" (according to federal standards, not to local or state standards)."

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By McCarton Ackerman

addiction and the brain

4/27/12 2:22pm

Video: Why "Just Say No" Just Won't Work

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Brain changes make habits hard to
break. Photo via

Telling people to "just say no" to their vices is wishful thinking, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says in a 60 Minutes report this weekend. Dr. Nora Volkow emphasizes that addiction happens on a neurological level, and she should know; she works with MRI scans that show how the brains of addicts alter, making it difficult for them to resist narcotics, food or whatever else they're hooked on. "We know that drug addiction is a chronic disease... drugs change the brain, physically change it," she says in the preview [below]. And the changes apparently remain long after an addict stops using. The level of dopamine—the brain chemical connected to pleasure—in an addict's brain spikes if they even just look at a photo of the substance they abuse, just as a hungry person gets hungrier at the sight of food. "It just basically stimulates release of dopamine and the more they release, the more they want the food," Volkow says. "We always say, 'Well, why do we have a problem with obesity in our society?' And I said, 'My God, we are surrounded by stimuli with which we are conditioned. If you like hamburgers, you may see that McDonald's yellow arches and then dopamine goes inside your brain and you want it and you don't know why you want it." The 60 Minutes report airs Sunday April 29 at 7 pm ET/PT.

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By Fionna Agomuoh

pot shops

4/27/12 1:18pm

Dutch Ban on Pot Tourists Still Imminent

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Members only. Photo via

All those tourists getting high in Amsterdam are an endangered species: a judge in the Netherlands has upheld a new law banning foreigners from entering any of the country’s 700 cannabis cafés, or "coffee shops," in light of concerns that pot tourists are spoiling neighborhoods or purchasing marijuana to sell in neighboring countries. The ban is now scheduled to come into force in three southern provinces next month, and should cover the entire country by the end of the year. But coffee shop owners are already planning to fight back with a new appeal, possibly even taking it to the European Court of Human Rights. Under the new law, coffee shops would become members-only establishments: only Dutch residents with a "weed pass" would be allowed inside, and the cafés themselves would only be allowed to distribute 2,000 such passes. Coffee shop owners argue that this ban discriminates against foreigners and will have a huge impact on the industry. "It is going to cost me 90% of my turnover," says a spokesman for the Dutch Cannabis Retailers Association. "That is a very good reason for anyone to oppose any plan.” The Netherlands’ conservative government is working to tighten the country's famously liberal drug laws. Currently, the cultivation and sale of marijuana is decriminalized but not legal; police generally allow possession of up to five grams.

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By Chrisanne Grise

Celebrity Roundup

4/27/12 12:10pm

Celebrity Roundup: April 27, 2012

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End of an era? Photo via

After a decade of hard-living starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton grabbing headlines for their substance abuse and bad behavior, is that era of excess finally coming to a close? That’s what The Atlantic Wire’s Richard Lawson thinks, explaining that “even [Lindsay Lohan,] the queen bee of celebrity wastoids — specifically young party girl ingenues — doesn't get the press she used to.” We’ll be convinced when more than a few weeks pass without an arrest or scandal.

She’s always been cagey about the particulars of her drug use, but fallen teen queen Demi Lovato got a little more honest about her cocaine use in an interview with Fabulous magazine, saying that she used drugs to “recreate the feeling to stay ‘up’” after the euphoric rush of a big concert. More than that, though, she cites the promoters who supplied her with alcohol at nightclubs and restaurants. “Being a celebrity can be dangerous,” she says. “Nobody says ‘no.’”

After being picked up for DUI in Los Angeles in late March, Bobby Brown has lucked out with a pretty sweet plea deal for the arrest that landed him three years’ probation and a one-day jail sentence. But at sentencing today, the judge ruled that Brown simply needs to enroll in a 90-day alcohol education program and pay a $390 ticket; and he also gets credit for time served toward his 1-day sentence from the time he spent in holding. Not bad!

An entertainment writer named Chris Gardner may have trouble keeping some of his A-list pals if his story continues to blow up — given that it’s a story that involves outing several big stars for their drug use. A writer who has worked for The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, Gardner fell in with the people who he was writing about, and admits he frequently used drugs with them — including Lindsay Lohan and Naomi Campbell. Neither of which, honestly, come as much of a surprise.

Dancing With the Stars breakout Melissa Gilbert has been transparent about her sobriety for many years, but her recent spot on DWTS might be too vivid of a reminder; Gilbert says that her time on the show has been like getting sober. “My emotions are raw and unpredictable. The closest thing I can compare this to emotionally is getting sober,” she said. “I remember those first days, the rush of feelings I was experiencing with no way to shut them off or numb them.”

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By Sam Lansky

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