The CEO of the daily-deal site Groupon told his employees to grow-up—and then apologized to them for drinking too much beer. It seems that 31-year-old high-flyer Andrew Mason chugged a beer to calm his nerves before giving a speech at company meeting—which was covered by a live Wall Street Journal webcast. The young company has faced shaky earnings and slumping share prices recently, and Mason's rallying cry to employees was about "not taking stupid risks" and "quality and control.” He said of Groupon, "We're still this toddler in a grown man's body in many ways.” But then at one point during his address, his voice broke and he apologized: "Sorry, too much beer." Critics say the incident belittles the beleaguered multi-billion-dollar company's reputation. "With beer or alcohol, most of the signals those send diminish a leader's credibility and authority," says Chris Tennyson, a senior partner at public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard. “If Mason was trying to send a message of informality and camaraderie, it was lost in translation.” Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler defended her boss, telling MSNBC, "I've never seen Andrew drunk. It's a really relaxed environment… It's not like him drinking a beer or not drinking a beer sends a particular message." Mason's harshest critics agree with her that the beer might not have made a huge difference. "I wish he could blame it on beer all the time," says Edward Woo, senior research analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets. "Unfortunately, he's proven that even when sober, he's not the most experienced CEO."
- Court Rules Florida Governor's Drug-Testing Order Unconstitutional [New York Times]
- Can Addictive Behaviors be Predicted in Preschool? [Time]
- How Drug Tests Will Lock Homeless New Yorkers With HIV/Aids Out of Shelters [Alternet]
- Army Warns Doctors Against Using Certain Drugs in PTSD Treatment [NextGov]
- A New Legal High Goes On Sale Every Week, Says EU Drug Agency [The Guardian]
- Wiz Khalifa Cited for Marijuana Possession in Nashville [Rolling Stone]
- Drunk Man Charged With Hijacking a Brewery Truck [The Local]
The New York Times reports on the criminalization of mothers with drug problems. Heather Capps is a 25-year-old Oxycodone addict from Alabama, who became addicted after she was prescribed the drug for scoliosis pain. When she found out she was pregnant, she feared that withdrawal would harm her unborn baby. When he was born, he tested positive for Oxy, and she was arrested. In most states, when a newborn tests positive for drugs, the case is handled by child services, not law enforcement. But under an Alabama law, the mother can face jail time for "chemical endangerment" of a child—including a fetus. The law was introduced in 2006 to protect kids from meth labs. But since then, nearly 60 Alabama mothers have been prosecuted after their newborns tested positive for drugs. Opponents of the law say drug use during pregnancy should be treated as a health issue, not a crime, and that criminalizing pregnant women may deter them from seeking treatment. "I think what you're looking at here is a failure to understand that addiction is a disease of the brain," says Dr. Barry Lester, the director of the Center for the Study of Children at Risk at Brown University. "You are looking at people who think that these are horrible women who are rationally, willfully hurting their kids, but it's more complicated than that. Science has shown that addiction is a disease like any other mental illness, and absolutely treatable."
The law also raises controversy over a woman's right to choose, with advocates of the law arguing for the rights of the unborn baby. Mitch Floyd, Alabama's most passionate prosecutor of chemical-endangerment cases, says "It's a shame that babies need to be protected from their mothers, but sometimes they do, and that's our job." But the law can also be seen to violate a mother's rights over her body. Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women argues, "We can value the unborn as a matter of religion, ethics or experience, but we can’t do that as a matter of law and still value pregnant women.”
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America's pill popping problem has been recognized as out of control, but a new study sheds light on exactly how out of control. The clinical laboratory company Quest Diagnostics analyzed nearly 76,000 urine samples from doctors' offices and Quest's own patient service centers, and found that 63% of patients aren't following their doctors' orders. Around 40% of these disobedient patients aren't taking the painkillers, sedatives or amphetamines prescribed for them—instead they skip doses and sell their extra medications, either to make a tidy profit or to pay for the high cost of health care. The other 60% are taking meds that weren't prescribed for them. Some even combine different prescription drugs they've obtained, which can be extremely dangerous. Such behavior is consistent across income levels, gender and different levels of health coverage. “People have such tremendous access to very powerful prescription drugs,” says Jon R. Cohen, Quest’s chief medical officer. The prevalence of prescription pill abuse—most of which is facilitated by addicts' friends and family members—has led to the DEA hosting an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which will take place this Saturday for the fourth year running.
Ex-smokers get help staying smoke-free from warnings on cigarette packages, according to a new study. The study arrives just as several nations, including the US, gear up to update cigarette pack warnings from words to graphic images. "This study provides the first evidence that health warnings can help ex-smokers stay quit," says Dr. Ron Borland of the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control in Australia. He and his team believe that warnings on cigarette packets remind ex-smokers why they quit in the first place, thus helping them resist relapse. The US FDA agree that cigarette packaging can help ex-smokers keep up their resolve. Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, NY, says that anti-smoking PSA's have made significant impact urging smokers to quit. "When these types of commercials are aired, calls to state smokers' quit-lines have increased dramatically,” she says. “This increase in calls indicates that the ads appear to be motivating smokers to quit." One survey, conducted between 2002 and 2009 asked ex-smokers if cigarette packaging warnings had helped them stay off cigs. Those who found the cigarette packaging helpful had a relapse rate of 41%, whereas those who did not find it helpful had a rate of 50%. Advocates claim that if more aggressive measures are taken in warning the public about the dangers of smoking, global smoking rates could drop from 24% to 13% by 2030.