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]
Nicole Scherzinger, a former member of girl group the Pussycat Dolls and a current judge on the UK X Factor, reveals in VH1's upcoming Behind the Music special that she once had a self-harming addiction, which started when she was a member of the group. "I just hated myself. I was in a group but I never felt so alone in my life...I never did drugs, but hurting myself was my addiction," Scherzinger says in a promo for the special. "I must be an artist because I'm fucked up! When I close the door, I'm not who you think." Her mother Rosemary also reflects on the secretive nature of her daughter's compulsion, saying the pop star kept it under wraps until it spiraled out of control: "I didn't realize that disease that she had. She kept it from us." Scherzinger credits music with helping her recover, calling it "the only thing I can trust." She's reportedly now working on her second solo album, which has yet to be given a release date. Another current X-Factor judge, Demi Lovato, has also been open about her struggles to avoid cutting—she went to rehab in 2010 to treat her issues with self-harm, substance abuse and bulimia. Scherzinger's Behind the Music special airs on VH1 this Sunday at 9 pm Eastern.
Being a teenaged smoker increases your chances of an early death from heart disease years later—even if you quit before you're middle-aged, shows a new study. It analyzed data from 28,000 men who went to Harvard between 1916 and 1950, then took follow-up surveys in later decades. Those who reported early smoking were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who never smoked. But those who smoked young, then quit remained at 29% higher risk than those who never started. Still, quitting is worthwhile. "The risks are cumulative," says David Batty, who worked on the study at University College London. "If you smoke across a life course, you're at much higher risk than if you just smoked around the college years. The positive message is, it's never too late to stop.” Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control researcher, agrees: "For people who did quit smoking during the follow-up period, their risk of death dropped greatly. It doesn't quite go back to [non-smokers' risk], but it is significantly less." He says that only around 3% of smokers quit every year.
Too tired to walk down the block to the nearest bar after your workout? You may no longer have to make the trek, thanks to several New York gyms now offering clientele the option of topping off their workout with something higher proof than the traditional sports drink. Thirsty gym rats can now join in a low-calorie vodka tasting at David Barton Gyms, or sip wine at the women-centric Uplift Studio in the Flatiron District; yoga buffs who also like to party can win a drink ticket to the Stonewall Bar after a session at Yoga for the Average Joe. And more gyms are hopping on the boozy band wagon. Green Fitness Studio in Bushwick, which has hosted raging parties on their rooftop patio, applied for a liquor license last month. Alcohol isn't generally recommended as part of an athlete's post-workout diet; booze can stunt hydration, damage muscle growth by inhibiting the release of human growth hormone (HGH), prolong feelings of soreness, and supply the body empty calories to offset potential fat-burning. However, experts are divided on the subject: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, say that moderate drinking can boost heart health (and liver health, too) while others have claimed that any physical health benefits are outweighed by the risks.
But owners of these gyms say they aren't offering up beer, wine and liquor because of health benefits—but rather to boost morale and (literally) keep the spirits high. Leanne Shear, one owner of the female-centric Uplift gym, tells The Fix that her program is based off of studies that showed that "being physically active and socially engaged" made for "strong, healthy and happy women." She advocates consuming in moderation, and says in addition to alcohol, her gyms offer "tons of water, healthy snacks, and non-alcoholic beverage options."