There's no two ways about it: recovery is hard. Now we can add another name to the tragic list of Celebrity Rehab alumni who haven't been able to stay sober. Season One cast member and '80s B-list movie star Brigitte Nielsen went on the show in 2007 to address her alcoholism. She appeared to be one of the success stories of her season—even declaring that she'd also kicked her tobacco addiction on an "update" special. However, photos taken yesterday show the 49-year-old actress/reality star appearing drunk, disheveled and disoriented in an LA park. Nielsen clutched a bottle of vodka and stumbled around smoking cigarettes, before falling asleep on the ground. Afterwards, she reportedly walked all the way back to her home in the Hollywood Hills.
Jennifer Gimenez, who appeared as a rehab technician on Celebrity Rehab and a sober living house manager for Dr. Drew's spinoff show Sober House, tells The Fix, "It's hard to stay sober in the public eye. It's hard to stay sober, period, I hope [Nielsen] does find help and get better." She adds, "It's consistency that matters. Just because you're enthusiastic in the beginning and have a little time, that doesn't mean sobriety suddenly gets easy. It's contrary to the way you've been living and you have to learn to live on a moment-by-moment basis." Giminez says of Nielsen, "I don't know how bad her relapse is. Sometimes going into treatment to detox is important but there's also a 12-step community that's free that's available at any time. I just hope she keeps fighting the fight. Her story is not done."
Nielsen isn't the only Celebrity Rehab star to have recently relapsed since their time in the Pasadena Recovery Center. Kari Ann Peniche was accused last month by her ex-husband of exposing their baby to meth, while Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was rushed to the hospital after passing out at several public appearances last May while promoting her adult films. Of course, Grease star Jeff Conaway, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr and activist Rodney King have all passed away since the show.
The beleaguered Mexican army is reportedly turning to high-tech spy technology in its efforts to combat the country's violent drug traffickers. Mexican newspaper El Universal recently published secret government contracts from 2011-2012, showing that a top army general purchased more than $350 million in "spy gear" that can be used to record cellphone conversations and mine data. The purchases reportedly also included a radar scanner capable of seeing through walls. With no exact details given as to how these tools could help track drug traffickers, various military sources claim they will be used for "various tasks, including political espionage." The Department of Defense denies this, saying the technologies were purchased for legal crime-fighting purposes and to help Mexico stay on top of the technological age. Adding to the intrigue, the company that's supplying the technology—listed on the contracts as "Security Tracking Devices"—is nowhere to be found, claim reporters—who followed the company's purported address to a "run-down residential area".
If the tools are really intended to bring down drug traffickers, some still worry that they could be misused, or end up in the wrong hands—especially given Mexico's history of government corruption and lack of transparency when it comes to surveillance. In recent years, the military has reportedly installed over 100 monitoring systems to intercept and monitor communications, with help from the US. And just last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized Mexico's building of its surveillance capacity. Although interception of communications legally requires judicial approval, the country's legal system is notoriously problematic and corrupt—with only one in 100 crimes reportedly ever reaching a judge. Human Rights Watch has accused the Mexican military—which has received US guidance in cracking down on drug cartels—of operating with “near total impunity.”
Kristen Johnston read from her brand new foreword to the paperback edition of her New York Times bestselling addiction memoir Guts yesterday at a beachside Malibu BBQ thrown by The Fix and Malibu Beach Sober Living's Beach House. The hardcover was released in March; the paperback will be out in January. Guests noshed on burgers (turkey burger options, of course—we were in California), fruit and chocolate chip cookies, while sipping on water, juice and caffeine—in its many forms. Johnston read sections both heartwarming and heartbreaking to a crowd including actors Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld, as well as Johnston's co-star on her TV Land series The Exes) and Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde), as well as recovery luminaries like Charlie Bentz (co-owner of Malibu Beach Sober Living's Beach House), Recovery Media Chairman Paul McCulley and Fix co-founder Joe Schrank. Afterwards, as K-Jo signed copies of Guts out on the deck, the ocean breeze wafted in on Grace Slick from the Jefferson Starship as she spoke about her sobriety and her newfound art: painting. Delicious food, creativity and an ocean view—not a bad way to celebrate recovery.
Qantas Airways has suspended a pilot for attempting to fly a plane while under the influence of alcohol. Authorities say the woman exceeded the limit for pilots of 0.02% alcohol in the blood in a test. She was caught last Monday as she was about to fly a Boeing 767-300 from Sydney to Brisbane. Flight attendants suspected she'd been drinking and reported it to airline operations managers. The plane was actually in the process of taxiing towards the runway when management made the decision to have the pilot stand down and replace her with another. Right now, she's being "withheld from duties on full pay" while the incident is investigated. Although Qantas representatives aren't at liberty to discuss the case, the investigation is expected to take about a month and the pilot will be interviewed next week. Incidents like this are extremely rare—since 2008, only 45 pilots have exceeded the alcohol limit in 51,000 tests in Australia, and none worked for Qantas, officials say. Qantas is renowned for a sterling safety record, with zero fatal accidents—a record that may have been at risk last week.
China is getting serious about stopping its citizens from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. The government has banned drug addicts from getting driver's licenses and says that any addicts who haven't received treatment and recovered fully must apply to have their licenses revoked within the next 30 days. Any driver who is pulled over and found under the influence of drugs will be punished or fined, while those who are deemed to be addicts will be stripped of their licenses. Local police will also start increasing roadside checks. The ruling comes on the heels of a well-publicized traffic accident that caused 14 deaths in East China in April—the driver of the coach involved in the accident tested positive for drugs. China currently has 1.19 million heroin addicts and a burgeoning synthetic drug problem—an estimated 40% of the country's synthetic drug users are new to the habit. China's reputation when it comes to the human rights of drug users is less than outstanding: the Human Rights Watch just released a report that claiming drug addicts in Beijing detention centers are subject to physical abuse and often detained against their will.
You’d think things couldn’t get any worse for US Olympic Judo hope Nicholas Delpopolo, after he was beaten out of bronze medal by Mongolia's Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal in the repechage stage. You’d be wrong: the 23-year-old from Westfield, New Jersey, has now been disqualified after failing a drugs test. He was tested on July 30 after his near miss; the International Olympic Committee claims he tested positive for the snappily-named 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid—which is connected to cannabis consumption. As a result Delpopolo may have his seventh-place finish rescinded. He may also have to return his diploma for competing in the Games and have his accreditation withdrawn. The International Judo Federation has been instructed to modify its results and, ominously, to "consider any further action within its own competence."