Ants: crawling all over your body. It sounds like a less-than-recreational side effect of a drug. But for some feathered "addicts," the stimulation it may provide could be the whole point. Birds' well-documented love of letting ants crawl all over them—or even slathering chewed up mouthfuls of ants onto their bodies—is called “anting,” reports NPR. It's particularly popular among smarter birds like ravens and magpies. Scientist Y.C. Wee divides it into two categories: "active anting," when you pick up ants in your beak and place them on to you, and "passive anting," which involves simply lying down on an ants' nest and seeing what happens. It's not certain why birds do it. Scientists theorize, firstly, that ants transfer chemicals that repel other insects and fungi. But it may also just feel good. One British scientist assessed that "the purpose of anting is the stimulation and the soothing of the body... similar to that gained by humanity from the use of external stimulants, soothing ointments, counter-irritants (including formic acid) and perhaps also smoking." But as with human self-medication, some bird-brains let their anting progress to a point where "it has no biological purpose but is indulged in for its own stake, for the feeling of well-being and ecstasy it induces."
To varying degrees of disappointment and relief, the final season of Jersey Shore premiered on MTV last night. Things are different this year—Snooki is renting her own house with her fiance and unborn child and Deena is in a relationship, which means viewers can expect fewer blurry crotch shots from Team Meatball. But the biggest change appears to be in Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino: after spending 40 days in a Utah rehab, The Sitch returned to the house eager to prove himself a changed man. And halfway through last night's episode, he sat them all down to make a Ninth Step amends for his previous behavior. Not that he quite broke his 12-step anonymity, but his apology and discussion of his recovery was easily identifiable as an amends. It's natural enough to wonder if Sorrentino really is a changed man, though. He still makes a show out of objectifying women. And he may make it through the on-screen season sober, but has reportedly fallen off the wagon since filming ended. What are meetings like at the Jersey Shore? Instead of coffee and donuts, do participants get Red Bull and glow sticks?
The FDA is using the power of the Internet to fight illegal online pharmacies. The fifth International Internet Week of Action, held from September 25-October 2, is a global effort to fight the online sale and distribution of potentially counterfeit and illegal meds. Through the efforts of this campaign—joining forces with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies from around 100 countries—more than 18,000 illegal pharmacy websites were shut down and 3.7 million doses of counterfeit medicine seized. An additional 4,100 internet pharmacies were shut down yesterday and 79 arrests have been made. "Consumers in the United States and around the world face a real threat from Internet pharmacies that illegally sell potentially substandard, counterfeit, adulterated or otherwise unsafe medicines," says FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "This week's efforts show that strong international enforcement efforts are required to combat this global public health problem." One of the targeted web pharmacies was Canadadrugs, which the FDA has previously warned and accused of selling drugs made by unapproved manufacturers for unapproved use, among other infractions. Canadadrugs was also accused of producing fake versions of the cancer drug Avastin that made their way into US oncology clinics, a claim the company denies. Other online pharmacies that were busted sold drugs including "Female Viagra"—which doesn't exist—and unapproved variations such as "Viagra Professional" and "Cialis Super Active."
Actor Martin Sheen says that being of service to others is what keeps him sober. The recovering alcoholic and Emmy award-winning West Wing star, 72, spoke yesterday at the Coming Together 2012 conference at Western Michigan University, declaring that "Acting is what I do for a living. Activism is what I do to stay alive," and urging the drug court professionals in attendance to keep up their work. "You have no idea how important what you do and how you do it is to our national health and culture," said Sheen. He encouraged his audience to "find something worth fighting for...because when you do, you will have found a way to unite the will of the spirit with the work of the flesh." While Sheen credits AA for his sobriety—and even headlined a live benefit reading of the play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, depicting the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous—his son Charlie Sheen has publicly derided the fellowship, declaring it to be a "cult" with a mere five percent success rate.
Sex therapists are seeing an increasing amount of young men (20s and 30s) whose performance anxiety issues are leading them to become psychologically dependent on Viagra. New stats show that more than 20 million men have used the drug. Although it was developed to help with erectile dysfunction, an affliction primarily associated with older males, studies suggest that it's increasingly used by young men to boost libido and enhance sexual performance. Even more worrying, many young people are combining Viagra with other drugs, like MDMA, cocaine, and alcohol—putting them at risk of health problems. It's also become one of the world's most popular black market drugs. Daniel Atkinson, 32, says he now needs two Viagra to enjoy sex. “No matter how I’m feeling, what’s going through my head, or how attracted to the woman I’m with, it makes no difference. Now, if I know I’m due to see a woman, I discreetly take two pills beforehand,” he says. “I sometimes find it hard to do without Viagra.” Many health professionals worry that non-recommended use of Viagra could cause long-term problems. For those who find it hard to stop, there's even a support group: Viagraholics Anonymous.
- The British Love Affair With the Bottle Appears to Be Ending [The Economist]
- More Restraint on Alcohol in Major League Baseball Celebrations [USA Today]
- Growing Number of Young Men Are Getting Addicted to Viagra [Digital Journal]
- Morphine and Cocaine are Yin and Yang, When it Comes to Rewarding Your Brain [io9]
- 1,500 Marijuana Plants Seized at Outdoor Pot Farm [LA Times]
- Police: Bus Driver Who Ran Into Long Island House Was Drunk [New York Post]