Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) has sharply increased among military veterans, and a new study has shown that cannabis use actually prolongs the PTSD symptoms they might be hoping to avoid. Research conducted at the National Center for PTSD and Center for Health Care Evaluation at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California indicates that veterans with a CUD demonstrated less change in their symptom severity than those without a CUD. “Individuals with a CUD diagnosis who discontinued use, compared with those without a CUD diagnosis, had lower levels of change in total PTSD symptoms, PTSD avoidance-numbing symptoms and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms,” says Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, who led the study. Those with a current CUD showed treatment gains equivalent to those with no treatment at all. According to Miller’s findings, rates of CUD diagnoses within the Veteran Affairs hospital system increased by more than 50% between 2002 and 2009. Rates of PTSD diagnoses among veterans increased by 60% between 2002 and 2007.
A year after a viral video introduced the “golden voice” of Ted Williams to the world, the 54-year-old formerly homeless man has kicked his addictions to crack and alcohol, and now lives in a condo in his hometown of Columbus, OH. He’s also been putting his talent to good use with a series of recording jobs, and is serving as the official voice for New England Cable News. “It’s a hallelujah moment every day I wake up. I couldn’t have prayed for anything like this. I couldn’t have dreamed that my life would end up like this,” says Williams. He formerly worked as a radio announcer, but lost his job due to drugs and spent decades on the streets. The YouTube video of him doing fake radio announcements while panhandling was released in January of 2011, received over 18 million hits and led Williams to hit the talk show circuit. However, in the midst of his newfound fame last year, Williams admitted he was still battling addiction and put his burgeoning career on hold to seek professional help. He now plans to release an autobiography this May, entitled A Golden Voice.
A series of drug arrests related to Indonesian airline Lion Air has prompted the Indonesian Transportation Ministry to demand stepped up drug testing of pilots and crew members. A Lion Air pilot was caught in possession of crystal meth last week, while five other drug arrests involving the airline's pilots and crew members took place in 2011. The ministry is now drafting a “Drugs and Alcohol Testing Program” to apply to everyone working in the air transportation industry on a daily basis, including "air traffic controllers, ground crews, technicians and airport security personnel,” says Ministry spokesperson Bambang Ervan. An additional circular mandates that increased drug testing procedures apply to all commercial airlines. Previously, the drug prevention protocol did not apply to airlines operating with fewer than 30 seats, which included local carriers such as Airfast Indonesia and Susi Air. According to the National Committee for Human Safety, human error is the biggest cause of air accidents in Indonesia, blamed for 52% of accidents between 2007 and 2011.
On Monday night’s episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, 47-year-old Kim Richards seemed like a sobbing, red-faced mess engaged in a series of strange activities—locking herself into the bathroom at The Sur opening, trilling about the thrill of reaching into her purse for a lipstick and discovering a vibrator, marveling over strange, dirty garbage left by previous passengers in her limo. But it sounds like the former child star has come a long way since that disturbing episode was shot. After Richards entered rehab for alleged prescription drug and alcohol abuse last December, a few media sources reported that she had checked out early. But Richards insists she completed the full 28-program, despite reports to the contrary. Richards returned home and later popped up at the Weinstein Company’s Golden Globes after party on Sunday, where she said she was feeling “phenomenal.” Running out to parties when you’re just back from rehab may not be the best prescription for a sober future, but Kim had her big sister Kathy Hilton, by her side lately instead of her more little sister Kyle—which may make for less riveting reality TV is surely better for everyone concerned.
Alcoholic parents have long been accused of wreaking havoc on their children's lives. But a new study suggests they screw up their kids' brains too. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found that teenagers with a family history of alcoholism display "weaker brain response during risky decision-making." The study involved 31 people aged 13-15. Eighteen had a family history of alcoholism and 13 didn't. With their heads monitored by a functional MRI, the kids were asked to make "risky" and "safe" decisions based around a Wheel of Fortune-like game. Initial results didn't say much: the children with family alcoholism performed similarly to those without. But the MRI results told a different story. "We found two areas of the brain the responded differently," says assistant professor Bonnie J. Nagel. Those areas were the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum, where teens with family alcoholism displayed weaker responses than their peers when faced with risky decisions. "We believe that weaker activation of these brain areas, known to be important for optimal decision making, may confer vulnerability towards risky decisions with regards to future alcohol use in adolescents already at risk for alcoholism," adds Nagel.
Californian mother Aide Mendez, 23, was last seen on Sunday, smoking meth and arguing with the father of her children, 33-year-old Eduardo Lopez. That night, neighbors heard gunshots and Lopez crawled with a knife in his hand from his apartment to the front yard, where he lay bleeding from a wound to the neck. Police found this grisly scene in the Central Valley apartment: Mendez had murdered her two young children—17-month-old Aliyah Echeverria and 3-year-old Isaiah Echeverria—as well as her boyfriend’s cousin Paul Medina, 27, before taking her own life in the bathroom with a bullet to the head. Before the argument, Mendez and Medina filmed themselves smoking meth on an iPad. Cops are reviewing the device for possible explanations; they also found 10 grams of meth, $8,000 in cash and three firearms in the apartment—two of them recently fired. “We do know that drugs played a key role, but we don’t know to what extent,” says Central Valley homicide commander Lt. Mark Salazar. “She was seen prior to the shooting smoking methamphetamine. She recorded herself on an iPad showing her and Paul Medina smoking meth. We know the power of meth.” Of the video, he notes, “Her actions just seemed bizarre; her mannerism, the way she was moving her hands and her facial expressions.” Eduardo Lopez remains in critical condition.