Intherooms.com, the first and biggest sober social network in the world—and the only one that's unaffiliated with any other organization—celebrated its third birthday yesterday. But when we asked co-founder and CEO Ron Tannebaum how he was feeling, he said there was "no big fanfare," and exuded more of a sense of quiet satisfaction. "We are very happy we are still here," he told The Fix. He also has reason to be happy with the impressive growth of the site he co-founded with Ken Pomerance: "Before we launched ITR, everyone we spoke to said this would never work, that we would never reach 10,000 members, that people in recovery are not into the internet, were not reliable enough to depend on to come back to a site day after day." But not so: "Fast Forward to today, our third anniversary, we have 173,000-plus members in 111 countries." ITR also boasts the largest AA and NA groups in the world—over 77,000 and over 66,000 members respectively—and a new video meeting platform was used to run a virtual town hall meeting last month, which The Fix co-hosted. “We want people and their families to stand up and yell, ‘We are in recovery and we are proud of it!’’ Ken Pomerance told us, when we featured the network back in May. Members who were asked to post on what ITR means to them yesterday felt the same, and showed a palpable sense of gratitude: "I would never be sober today without ITR," was a typical statement. "My co-founder Kenny P and I are just living the dream and giving back to the global recovery community what was so freely given to us," Tannebaum told us, "the promise of being free of active addiction." Given all this, we feel that perhaps a little fanfare is justified.
- Feds Target Pot Dispensaries for Closure [AP]
- Police Chief: There are 400,000 Heroin Addicts in Iran [Tehran Times]
- Heroin and Crack Use in Decline in England [The Guardian]
- Colombian Drug Lord Pleads Guilty, Cooperates [Fox News]
- The Top Five CIA-Connected Drug Lords Ever [News One]
- Police Find Meth in Truck Owned by Prosecutor [Chicago Tribune]
- Colorado Man Assumed Friend Was Drunk, Not Dead [ABC News]
A new report scheduled to be heard by the Senate next week charges Medicare with underwriting the addictions of about 170,000 doctor-shopping beneficiaries who have bought scripts for addictive drugs on Medicare’s tab. Patients obtain the drugs through Medicare Part D, which pays for prescription medications. Drugs most commonly abused, the report says, are prescription painkillers including oxycodone and hydrocodone—AKA OxyContin and Percocet. Here's what doctor-shopping looks like: in one year, a Georgia Medicare beneficiary received prescriptions for more than 3,500 oxycodone tablets from 58 different physicians, filled at more than 40 pharmacies. A Texas man got more than 4,500 hydrocodone pills from 25 different doctors in a year, and a Medicare beneficiary in California received prescriptions for 1,397 fentanyl patches and pills from 21 different doctors. That’s a lot of drugs—more than one person could safely use, according to one of the doctors who prescribed for the Texas patient. Medicare officials have apparently hesitated to put limits on patients receiving drugs in such quantity—for example, by limiting patients to one physician and one pharmacy—because they want to protect patients’ access to care. However, there have been growing reports of elderly patients selling drugs to bring in extra income. And those who work in addiction treatment know that some people pose as patients to get drugs. “There are people who work as professional patients,” Neil Capretto, DO, medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, Pittsburgh, told The Fix. “They go to multiple doctors every day, they get fake X-rays and scans—they’re real pros.”
Teenagers in the Detroit area—and many others—have recently found a new way to fool parents, teachers and even cops, enabling them to "drink" any time without arousing suspicion: "boozy bears." Gummi bears or worms—or even rats in honor of the Halloween season—are soaked overnight in vodka. The candy absorbs the booze remarkably well and becomes a high-octane treat. Just as vodka has always been favored by teens because it has relatively little tell-tale smell, these drunken Gummis are surging in popularity because only careful inspection—or tasting—will enable adults to discover that they contain anything more dangerous than sugar. Just a few handfuls can be enough to get drunk—and a major concern is that kids have no way of telling how much they have consumed. What's more, it's easy to consume a lot very quickly, posing serious health risks to kids. How-to sites are full of instructions for making boozy bears and YouTube instructional videos have also been popping up for at least the past few months. But the trend is on the rise, and earlier this week the story was featured on NBC in Detroit. However, a Detroit teenager, "TheNikbagtvZone," recently asked in a YouTube video whether all the publicity generated wouldn't simply power the problem further: "Why would y'all do a story on this? You know kids are like, 'Word? Gummi bears and vodka? Never thought about that. We're doing that right now!'"
An innocuous-looking suburban house was the unexpected source of a loud explosion in Lafayette, Indiana, on Monday night. Neighbors who were woken by the blast reported noticing no suspicious activity beforehand: "There's not [normally] a lot of ruckus around here," one comments. A man was sent to the hospital for chemical burns, and police arrested 26-year-old Steven Hanna for manufacturing meth. A chemical smell lingered in the air nearby for at least 24 hours afterward. The fact that the meth lab was within 1,000 feet of a school increases Hanna's potential sentence from 20 to 50 years. The "one-pot" method of cooking meth which was used in this lab has recently grown in popularity in Indiana and nationwide. Also known as "shake and bake," the technique involves pouring all the ingredients into one small container, such as a two-liter soda bottle. The advantage of this is that only relatively small amounts of the cold medicine pseudoephedrine are needed, sidestepping state laws created to regulate its sale. The disadvantage is the increased likelihood of explosions and chemical fires, caused by the proximity of the ingredients to a potential source of ignition. The one-pot method is also popular in mobile meth labs, such as one discovered during a routine traffic stop in Georgia last weekend.
- Addiction Among Seniors Expected to Triple by 2020 [Huffington Post]
- IRS Ruling Strikes Fear in Medical Marijuana Industry [MSNBC]
- ATF Officials Demoted in Latest Fast and Furious Fallout [LA Times]
- Warrant Frontman Jani Lane Died of Alcohol Poisoning [Reuters]
- Prohibition's Real Lessons for Drug Policy [LA Times]
- $30,000 of Heroin Found in Maine State Prison Showroom [Bangor Daily News]
- Dutch Drunk Drivers to Have Detector Locks Fitted on Cars [The Telegraph]