Reader's question: I feel like work is ruling my husband's life so much that it's damaging our family. Do you think workaholism is an addiction?
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Former pastor Dr. T. C. Ryan's struggle with pornography began as a young teen, when he discovered his mother’s lingerie magazines, and continued for over 40 years. He's now authored a candid memoir, Ashamed No More. “I stumbled unknowingly into compulsive sexual behavior in my adolescence," he tells The Fix. "Sexual interest and exploration are part of normal human development, but for me the stimulation of arousal and gratification became my essential method of coping with my life.” As a married man, and a pastor for 20 years in Kansas City, he lived a double life, consumed with guilt which in turn fed his compulsive cycle. Technology escalated his behavior. “When I stumbled into Internet pornography, I hated myself,” he says. “I promised God that I would never do this again, and I meant it. I honestly thought, 'That’s it, I’m done. I’ve turned the corner.' So the next time, the shame was even greater." Ryan says that sexual addictions—particularly to online porn—are very common among pastors because of the nature of ministry. Hearing people's darkest secrets all day long is emotionally draining, he explains. So many pastors get burned out and seek escape and relief. Internet pornography is always accessible, and—unlike addictions to drugs, alcohol, or food—there are no externally visible consequences of using, so it’s easy to hide.
“Sexual issues are only symptoms of deeper issues,” says Ryan. “Sexual brokenness is an indicator that there is some disconnect in the way I see myself and the way I interact with others. At the heart of it, sexually compulsive behavior indicates an attachment disorder; we have fundamental core beliefs that are flawed and need to be identified and reworked and thinking patterns that need to be redeveloped.” Ryan stepped down as a senior pastor to focus on his recovery, although he still preaches about his experiences: "My experience of freedom from the compulsive behaviors came after a confluence of several factors, including a particular therapy, the death of my mother and me leaving ministry.” He and his wife hope that telling his story will encourage others to get help. “I hope that from my journey people might learn that we are all sexual beings, and that is good; that in our society we use sexuality to market and to entertain, but for a lot of us we don’t learn how to use our sexuality in healthy, self-integrated ways,” he says. “No matter how we might get confused or messed up about sex, there is help, there is a way forward to healthy sexual living. We need the truth, we need each other, and occasionally we need professional help.” He adds, “Don’t be afraid of the journey to recovery. Don’t hold back. It will take everything out of you—which it must if it’s going to work—and will give back to you a different and a better life.”
Sir Richard Branson is the latest celebrity to blast US drug policy, calling the war on drugs a "war on black people." The billionaire Virgin Group founder and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (a body of leading figures and politicians campaigning for more effective drugs laws) has called US drug policy racist, as evidenced by the high percentage of African Americans in prisons. "The fundamental difference in America, is that it is a war against black people in America," says Branson. "85% of people who go to prison for drug use in America are black people. They don't take more drugs, but it's a racist law against black people in America." The British business magnate cites Portugal, which decriminalized drug use but still prosecutes traffickers and dealers, as a superior model of effective and fair drug policy. He also urges the US government to treat addiction as an illness, emphasizing treatment and education over criminalizing addicts and drug users. "You’ve got something like 1.5 million people in American jails languishing for taking drugs and that is wrong," he says. "Those people would be much better being out in society, being helped if they have drug problem, getting off the problem."
- LA Marijuana Ban Retreat Shows Clout of Pot Activists [Los Angeles Times]
- Black Mamba Venom is "Better Painkiller" Than Morphine [BBC News]
- Should States Let Families Force Adults into Rehab? [Time]
- Student Denies Alcohol Enema Story, Says He'll Sue [OregonLive]
- Digital Bottle Cap Sparks Fun Times When It is Popped [Fast Company]
- Breaking Bad, Now in Awesome Action Figure Form [Kotaku]
Texas is not doing enough to protect residents from the health risks caused by meth labs, reports StateImpact Texas. Every ounce of meth cooked produces four or five ounces of toxic byproduct, and meth cooks will dump it anywhere they can. And if those chemicals aren't cleaned up properly, they can cause a range of health problems. In Texas, there are no laws requiring homeowners to clean a property after police break up a meth lab there—so landlords can rent ex-meth labs right away, without even telling tenants about the building’s history. “I’ve got a whole filing cabinet of contaminated homes in Austin that have probably never ever been cleaned,” says Kirk Flippin, owner of Texas Decon Environmental Services, a company specializing in meth lab cleanup. “Texas is very unregulated. It’s kind of like the wild wild West…The citizens aren’t being protected by the state of Texas.” Exposure to the chemicals used by meth cooks can cause health problems like lung disorders and nervous system issues. In children, they may also cause skin rashes and damage to organs like the liver, thyroid and kidneys.
The laws Texas does have to protect residents tend to be ineffective. For example, sellers are required to tell a buyer if a house was used as a meth lab—but if a bank or real estate agent is selling a foreclosed home, they can omit that tiny detail. Other states have much stricter laws: in Colorado, a house can be quarantined even if someone just smoked meth inside. Those campaigning to change the rules in Texas have yet to see much progress. Texas legislature member David Leibowitz proposed requiring landlords to disclose any meth lab history to future tenants: the bill died in the House, and no similar ideas have been suggested since. “The bill failed because the apartment industry put their profits before their renter’s health," says Leibowitz. "They vigorously opposed the bill. They didn’t want to have to notify potential tenants if a meth lab had been in a particular rental unit. They wanted to be able to continue to rent it out.”
The infamous Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar was killed nearly two decades ago, but his face is now plastered across Mexico—via a popular designer T-shirt line. Escobar's Medellín cartel—which once controlled 80% of the world's cocaine market—is held responsible for thousands of deaths. His 39-year-old son, Sebastian Marroquin, who changed his name from Juan Pablo Escobar Henao after his father's death in 1993, is now marketing high-end tees displaying his father's face and some provocative messages. "What's your future looking like? / Nice pace, but wrong way" reads one, emblazoned with Escobar's driver's license. Despite some fairly extortionate prices, they're selling fast. "We're not trying to make an apology for drug trafficking, to glamorize it in the way that the media does," claims Marroquin. The shirts are apparently meant instead to "provoke reflection." But they're accused of cashing in on violence, and of fueling fascination with cartel culture. They're available from stores in Sinaloa and Jalisco states, both of which are plagued by drug violence. They're also being sold in Austria, Guatemala and the US—but not Colombia, out of respect for Escobar's victims. Marroquin brushes off the criticism, saying he's not the first to make money from his father, and that books and TV shows have already done the same: "Those who set out to criticize me are the same who have profited from the story, life and name of Pablo Escobar."