Some kids get grounded for using drugs; others get turned into walking billboards of shame. When April Methison caught her 13-year-old son Brandon smoking pot, she decided to teach him—and the rest of the teen population of Beaufort, South Carolina—a lesson. She did this by forcing him to walk the town's main intersection wearing a sign that reads, "Smoked pot, got caught! Don't I look cool? Not!" on one side, and "Learn from me, don't do drugs" on the other. "Time outs and taking things away just doesn't work any more. Sometimes a little public humility is what they need nowadays to get a point across," says the tough mother. "If this works for him and maybe saves one or two other students from thinking about picking this stuff up, then I feel like I've done my job as a parent." Asked what he's learned from the ordeal, Brandon—who has walked the intersection two nights this week while getting "all kinds of looks" from passersby—dutifully says: "I got to change my life and stop."
The Wire and Boardwalk Empire actor Michael K. Williams managed to keep his double life in Newark, New Jersey out of the tabloids for several years. Best known for his role on The Wire as Omar Little—the scar-faced, shotgun-toting, homosexual thug who made his living stealing from cutthroat Baltimore drug dealers—Williams admits to doing cocaine and pot starting in 2004 in "scary places with scary people," including drug dealers and real-life felons. His addiction got to the point where he was even begging dealers for lines. “I was playing with fire,” he said. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead. When I look back on it now, I don’t know how I didn’t end up in a body bag." A high-functioning addict, Williams never blew an acting call and never missed a day of work due to his habit, but said his addiction led to an isolation that became too much to bear. "I had to slip away to do drugs," he says. "I had to hide it. I’d be gone for days at a time. I was lonely in that part of my life. I was broke, broken and beat up. Exhausted. Empty. I finally said, ‘I can’t do this no more.’ I didn’t want to end up dead.”
He eventually saw the light when a friend dragged him Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington and Williams met with the Reverend there. He eventually gained enough strength from the church to kick his addiction, and credits the Reverend with saving his life. "After that first time, I would come back here high," said Williams. "I didn’t kick it right away. He knew that. I would never disrupt the services. But you could look at my eyes and tell. He never let me leave without giving me money. He probably gave me two grand altogether. He made sure I could eat. He always asked, ‘Are you okay?’ He loved me until I could love myself.”
Q: I know a cancer patient who feels angry when people describe behavior-driven addictions as a disease. Should we define the two differently?
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Despite reports that deaths from Mexico's drug war rose "only" 5.6% last year—the least since 2007—the reality felt very different for residents of Guadalajara this weekend, as the western Mexican city became engulfed by drug war violence. Armed gangs actually blocked highways and set up seven roadblocks throughout the city on Saturday while setting vehicles on fire. Police are reporting that one person was seriously wounded by gunfire, but no arrests have been made. All of the roadblocks throughout have also since been cleared. Although Guadalajara has been relatively quiet in terms of drug-related violence compared to other cities, it certainly hasn't been immune: it experienced similar flaming roadblocks this past March as the military worked to arrest a prominent cartel leader. More than 55,000 people in Mexico have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and launched his crackdown on cartels. It was recently reported that cartels have even infiltrated Mexico's Supreme Court.
Pink has been an international star ever since her debut album was released in 2000. But her life hasn't always been so charmed: the 32-year-old "Raise Your Glass" singer has long been open about her teen drug use and partying, saying she was "on all the club drugs" and "selling Ecstasy and crystal meth and Special K." But now she's revealed, in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, that she actually overdosed in 1995. The experience was apparently enough to turn her life around: "And then I never took drugs again, ever." Pink is due to play a sex addict in the upcoming movie Thanks For Sharing. When asked why she wanted to play that part, she replies, "Because I understand addiction. I was a hardcore partyer from 12 to 15." Nowadays though, she claims her only "addiction" is shopping for clothes for her baby daughter, Willow. “I’m in so much trouble with [my husband] Carey for the shit I buy for her,” she says. “Because a one-year-old shouldn’t have Diesel jeans. But it tends to slip my mind when I see them because they’re so cute.”
"Pro-ana" websites that controversially support and encourage eating disorders may actually have a practical element of offering anorexics the support of an online community, reports Fix columnist Maia Szalavitz. The content of these 'pro-ana' sites—such as “thinspriation” images of emaciated celebrities and models, and tips on how to stay anorexic—can be alarming, and Yahoo, Tumblr and Pinterest for example have banned them. But a new study by researchers at Indiana University actually found that these websites may provide a rare network of support for those suffering from the widely stigmatized, and often fatal, illness. “The Internet is a very good place for people to find support from similar others,” explains Daphna Yeshua-Katz, a doctoral student at Indiana University, who co-authored the study, adding that those with eating disorders often suffer in silence and isolation. Of the 300 pro-ana bloggers Yeshua-Katz contacted, only 33 were willing to be interviewed, due to the private and controversial nature of the sites—but those she did speak with shared the belief that the sites allow anorexics to express themselves in a place where they would not be judged.
“There was no one in my life that I could speak to openly about what I was feeling and experiencing. I wanted to have a voice that I didn’t have to censor for fear of upsetting people I knew or having them judge me,” said one of the anonymous bloggers. But as Szalavitz points out, a support community of people who are still actively participating in self-destructive behavior could reinforce and possibly prevent recovery—since these friendships may focus not on recovery, but on remaining sick. “They go online to vent and they find friends. But at same time they are aware that being a pro-ana blogger might encourage their eating disorder and those of other vulnerable young girls,” says Yeshua-Katz, “I’m not saying it’s only beneficial or all bad; it’s a double-edged sword.” She adds that she doesn’t support banning the sites as almost all of these “thinspiration” photos can be found in mainstream fashion magazine and websites. “I think we need to provide [people with anorexia] with better ways to lead them into recovery online.”