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4/25/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: April 25, 2012

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"Every day is a full-on emotional roller coaster,"
says sober Gilbert. Photo via

By Bryan Le

workaholism

4/24/12 5:07pm

Are You a Workaholic?

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Where does work end, and life begin? Photo via

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy—or a workaholic. Growing numbers of people are succumbing to workaholism, as technology blurs the boundaries between our working and private lives. According to University of Bergen Psychology professor Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, the effects can include: insomnia, health problems, burnout, stress, and tension in relationships. She and her colleagues have developed a tool to measure workaholism: "The Bergen Work Addiction Scale." In the process they asked 12,135 Norwegian employees from 25 different industries to answer "never, rarely, sometimes, often, or always" to different statements. The scalewhich draws on seven core elements of addiction: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, relapse and problemsis claimed to reliably categorize participants as non-addicted, mildly addicted or workaholic. So has your work ethic crossed the line into addiction?

How often do these statements apply to you?

• You think of how you can free up more time to work.

• You spend much more time working than initially intended.

• You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.

• You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.

• You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.

• You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.

• You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.

If you answer "often" or "always" to four or more of these statements, the scale suggests you may be a workaholic. The Bergen Work Addiction Scale will be used to address workaholism as a global problem, and to research recovery and treatment options. If you find you're addicted to not working, however, you may be on your own. 

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By Fionna Agomuoh

Bad Meds

4/24/12 4:00pm

Rehab Doc: Rx Painkillers Make More Pain

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Rx painkiller deaths and treatment admissions closely
follow sales. Photo via

Day two of the Foundations Recovery Network’s Freedom & Recovery conference in San Diego kicked off with a tag-team talk by Dr. Mel Pohl, FASAM, medical director of Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC), and Claudia Black, Ph.D., senior clinical and family services advisor for the same rehab. Pohl and Black spoke on the interplay between trauma and chronic pain, both of which feed into one another to create debilitating addictions—not to mention more pain. Trauma sufferers drink or use drugs to relieve emotional and physical pain, which works for a while; but then—due to a quirk of how opioids act on the brain, as well as to the biological need for a functioning pain response—the pain comes back stronger than before, requiring more booze or higher doses of meds to suppress it, kicking off a vicious cycle.

It’s worst for those who have been through a particularly harrowing experience, such as war or sex abuse (especially during childhood): “The greater the trauma experience, the more synergistic the relationship between trauma and pain,” Black said. She added that greater trauma leads to a greater likelihood of addiction. Unfortunately, many medical doctors—influenced by the “pharmaceutical-industrial complex,” as Pohl put it—are too quick to write prescriptions, often for opioids, which can cause more problems than they relieve. As a particularly jarring PowerPoint slide illustrated, from 1999 to 2010, rising painkiller sales have corresponded with remarkably similar, steadily increasing rates of overdose and treatment admission. It’s for this and other reasons that LVRC uses the term “pain recovery.” “I got tired of calling it ‘pain management,’ said Pohl. “And I don’t like using the term ‘painkillers’—we’re not going to ‘kill’ the pain.”

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By Hunter R. Slaton

cringe drinking

4/24/12 3:00pm

Teens Get Hammered on Hand Sanitizer

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An un-sanitary habit Photo via

Hand sanitizer apparently tastes like "vodka and bugspray," which hardly seems like an alluring cocktail. But it is the poison-of-choice for a growing number of teens. Most recently, six LA teens drank enough hand sanitizer to land themselves in the hospital, leaving officials worried that the drink is becoming trendy again. Using instructions easily found on the web—there's even a handy e-how!—teens are distilling liquid hand sanitizer with salt and cheese cloths to make cheap, accessible 120-proof hard liquor. "It is kind of scary that they go to that extent to get a shot of essentially hard liquor," says Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department. Just a few shots of the concoction can land a person in the emergency room. Worse, some sanitizers are made with isopropyl alcohol, which can be fatal if consumed. The trend causes flashbacks for experts like Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, who has seen teens put away mouthwash, vanilla extract and, most famously, cough syrup (see: purple drank) to get drunk. “Cough syrup had reached a very sexy point where young people were using it... We want to be sure this doesn't take on the same trend,” she says. She advises parents to buy foaming hand sanitizer instead of the gel ones because foam is much harder to distill.

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By Bryan Le

breaking silence

4/24/12 2:08pm

Sopranos Star Breaks Omertà on Addiction

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Joe is determined not to lose his head, unlike
his Sopranos character. Photovia

Actor Joe Pantoliano, best known for his roles as Ralph Ciafretto in The Sopranos and Guido the Killer Pimp in Risky Business, is opening up about his addiction-filled past. His new memoir, Asylum: Hollywood Tales From My Great Depression: Mental Dis-Ease, Recovery and Being My Mother's Son, reveals his addictions to alcohol, prescription drugs, food and sex, as well as his  "self-medication" behaviors he dubs the "Seven Deadly Symptoms": food,  vanity, shopping and shoplifting, success, sex, alcohol and prescription drugs. "I became an alcoholic, an addict, a compulsive shopper, a kleptomaniac. And a maniac!" writes the 60-year-old actor. The memoir also talks about his difficult upbringing in a New Jersey household with gambling addictions, alcoholism and ties to organized crime. "The whole point of this is to use myself as an example in giving other people permission to be open and honest about their past," says Pantoliano. These days, Pantoliano has three children with his third wife and is almost entirely sober, save for taking 10 milligrams of an antidepressant and 10 milligrams of a statin for cholesterol. And while he's unable to live off his time on The Sopranos—"I get a $14 check every few months"—Pantoliano is set to star in a New York play with Mario Cantone, Moolah, about two con men who fall out of favor with the mob.

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By McCarton Ackerman

rehab gulag

4/24/12 1:02pm

UN Urges Thailand to End Forced Rehab

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In some rehabs, addicts are beaten or forced
into unpaid labor. Photo via

Sometimes rehab isn't a good thing. The United Nations is urging Thailand to end its program of mandatory drug rehabilitation for addicts, instead encouraging their own participation and community involvement in the recovery process. A recent UN report says that Thailand has forced drug rehabilitation on 65% of the 400,000 addicts in the country, while only 25% have undergone treatment voluntarily and 13% have taken it up. The UN has also condemned similar mandatory rehab programs in other southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, calling them "counterproductive" and claiming they violate the rights of drug users in some cases. A 2011 NGO Human Rights Watch report revealed how residents of some forced treatment centers are required to undertake hazardous and unpaid labor in agricultural production, garment making or construction and receive physical abuse if they do not comply. Earlier this month, 96 addicts escaped a compulsory drug rehab center in Vietnam, nearly half of the total residents being treated there.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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