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8/22/12 12:00pm

NASCAR Driver Returns After Heroin Recovery

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Will Fike race again? Photo via

NASCAR reinstated driver Aaron Fike yesterday, now that he's completed his recovery program for a heroin addiction. Fike was arrested in July 2007, while he was injecting himself in an amusement park parking lot. He avoided jail time by delivering anti-drug speeches at schools and race tracks, while also participating in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. While NASCAR never actually caught Fike using drugs, he admitted in 2008 that he'd been a heroin user for eight months, and a painkiller addict for six years before that. In the weeks before his arrest, he was using heroin every day. His habits hadn't yet deprived him of professional success however: at the time, he was eighth in the Camping World Truck series standings. Fike's confession likely influenced NASCAR's decision to instate a random drug-testing policy in 2009—before that, drug tests were only conducted based on "reasonable suspicion." “I was able to race with it in my system, so [that policy] didn't work with me,” Fike said in an April 2008 interview. Now, the 29-year-old driver is eligible to race again, but he doesn't appear to have any sponsors yet. And he's not the only NASCAR driver in trouble for using drugs—A.J. Allmendinger is also in the recovery program after a drug test found amphetamine in his system this year. Three other drivers have been suspended since the random testing began, and none of them have returned to race.

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By Chrisanne Grise

teenage drug use

8/22/12 10:36am

Survey Shows Drug-Infested US High Schools

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Wishful thinking Photo via

American high school students say that around 17% of their peers use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes during the school day—a total of around 2.8 million teens—according to the 17th annual back-to-school teen drug-use survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). Eighty-six percent of the high-schoolers surveyed confirm that this happens. And almost half of them know where to buy drugs at school. As for what's on offer, 91% of kids surveyed report cannabis for sale on school property, and 24% prescription drugs. Private high schools are also rapidly catching up with public ones: 54% of such students now say drugs are rampant at their schools—that's shot up from just 36% in 2011. 

Significantly, three-quarters of the 12-17-year-olds surveyed said coming across photos of other kids drinking or smoking on Facebook and other social networking sites encourages them to want to get high—and almost half the teens say they see photos of kids passed out or using drugs. Compared to kids who haven’t seen pictures like these, kids who have are four times likelier to have smoked cannabis, more than three times likelier to have drunk booze, and almost three times as likely to be cigarette smokers.

Those who conducted the survey say the lesson for parents is that they have to show their kids they clearly disapprove of drug-use and drinking, which counters one strain of conventional parental wisdom: “I can’t believe how many parents of our teens say they always thought that, if their kids were drinking at home, it was OK because it was under their own roof,” says Nicole Kurash, program director for inpatient adolescent programs at Gateway Rehabilitation. Emily Feinstein, CASA’s senior policy analyst and the report’s director, tells The Fix, “Parents need to say they don’t want their kids to drink because it’s illegal and bad for them. They need to start talking to their children early—by the time they’re 7 or 8—about what’s going on in their lives.” Feinstein emphasizes that teenage brains are more vulnerable than adults’ to the effects of drugs and alcohol.

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By Jennifer Matesa

Headlines

8/22/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 22, 2012

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The Florida teen likely wishes he could have
transformed into someone more sober.
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By Bryan Le

college Drinking

8/21/12 5:01pm

WVU Earns "Top Party School" Title

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WVU students celebrating their win.
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West Virginia University has been crowned the number one party school of 2013 by The Princeton Review—claiming the title for a third time after taking top "honors" in 1997 and 2007—and WVU administrators are not enthused. “If you look at the schools on this list, they are mostly large, public universities with strong academic and research profiles, as well as highly successful athletic programs. But in the big picture, clearly this list has no real credibility,” says WVU spokeswoman Becky Lofstead. “As always, we focus on celebrating and supporting WVU’s long history of academic achievements. Our students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends have made it clear that is their focus as well.” Whatever the focus really is, the students have demonstrated a laser-like determination to party judging by the laundry list of police citations issued during move-in weekend alone: 100 underage drinking violations, 39 open container violations, 11 “nuisance parties,” seven citations of disorderly conduct, five citations of obstructing an officer, two citations of battery of an officer and three citations for drunk driving. And all of these went down between Friday and Sunday before classes began on Monday. The city of Morgantown also reports it responded to 115 WVU fires last semester alone. Although its ranking may enhance WVU's appeal to graduating high school freshman with a penchant for booze and pyromania, parents may be pushing their kids towards Utah's Brigham Young University, which has earned the title of Top Stone-Cold Sober School for the fifteenth year in a row.

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By Bryan Le

sober stars

8/21/12 4:11pm

Ginger Spice: I Wannabe Booze-Free

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This pop star wannabe booze-free. Photo via

British pop star Geri Halliwell, who once went by the moniker "Ginger Spice," has said "goodbye" to sugar—because she can't have it in moderate amounts. ''I do try to abstain from sugar. That's my thing," she says. "'I'm addicted to it…If I have one little bit, it's a trigger." The red-headed member of 90's pop group The Spice Girls has abstained from booze as well—in order to look and feel younger, and also to be a better mum to her six-year-old daughter. ''Alcohol is full of sugar. Besides, if I'm going to find the balance of being a mum and having a social life, I just can't put a hangover in there.''

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By May Wilkerson

drunk at sea

8/21/12 3:26pm

Cruise Line Plots to Get Passengers Wrecked

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One of the perils of drinking-at-sea.
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Carnival Cruises is testing out a new drinking option that will appeal greatly to those intending to get soused at sea, despite the risk of encouraging passengers—perhaps quite literally—to go overboard. At around $50 per day, their all-you-can-drink package, encouragingly called “My Awesome Bar Program,” would allow cruisers unlimited wine, beer and spirits—as well as non-alcoholic frozen drinks. Initial testing for the program is set for only one of their ships, the Carnival Victory, but if successful, the company plans to expand the program to its entire fleet. Potential problems aren't hard to envisage. Smashed shipmates may be obnoxious at best—and at worst, have been known to cause mass brawls or throw small children overboard. A quick search of Carnival Cruise's own official forums reveals tales of unruly intoxicated teens and drunken groping. Perhaps such considerations are why Carnival is actually the last of its major rivals to offer an unlimited drink ticket—with Royal Caribbean rolling out the program on three of its ships last year and Celebrity Cruises offering such a program fleet-wide since 2010. 

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By Bryan Le

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