- Heroin Works Better Than Methadone, So Why Won’t Politicians Allow It? [Daily Beast]
- Florida Passes Bill to Test State Workers for Drugs [Reuters]
- Counselors Expect OxyContin Addicts Will Soon Switch to Heroin [Canada.com]
- Bolivia Defends Coca Consumption at UN Meeting [Reuters]
- Five Signs That Your Parents Are Drug Addicts [Huffington Post]
- Snooki, Lay Off the Booze, Please, Urges Staten Island Democratic Lawmaker [NY Daily News]
- Amish Youths Charged With Drinking After Buggy Crashes Police Car [Chicago Tribune]
The Center for American Progress—a leading progressive public policy research organization—has just released a startling report asserting that gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are much more prone to substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Pulling together data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other scientific studies, the organization claims that an estimated 20-30% of gay and transgender Americans have abused substances, compared to 9% of the general public. Why? “The stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination and stigma is a principal driver of these higher rates of substance use, as gay and transgender people turn to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances as a way to cope with these challenges," the report states. "And a lack of culturally competent health care services also fuels substance-use rates among gay and transgender people.” The authors say that gay and lesbian adults are twice less likely than other Americans to have health insurance, since most workplaces still don't provide insurance benefits to same-sex couples. They also note that gay and transgender people are 200% more likely to smoke tobacco than heterosexuals, and that gay men are 3.5 times more likely to smoke pot than straight men. “In order to lower these rates," they conclude, "our health care system needs to better meet the needs of gay and transgender people, and our government needs to advance public policies that promote equality for this population.”
Out today from Byliner Originals—an e-reader-based publisher of original fiction and nonfiction—is a new recovery memoir by Paul Carr: Sober Is My New Drunk. It's incendiary for several reasons. One is that Carr, a humorist and tech blogger, disdains AA in his effort to get sober, even going claiming that the 12-step program “breeds an ‘it's not my fault’ mentality that refuses to accept that anyone can ever truly be cured of the 'disease' of alcoholism.” Another is that he chooses as his sort-of higher power something that can also be used to stalk ex-lovers and play Farmville: social media (Carr previously wrote about this strategy for The Fix). Amazingly, it seems to be working; at publication, Carr had 850 days booze-free. He writes:
When I decided to quit drinking, and when I realized that AA wasn’t for me, I knew I’d have to find a route to sobriety that was as public as possible. I knew that the only way I’d be able to reverse my reputation as a boozer would be to tell the whole world—or at least the part of the world I lived in—that I was quitting.
Fortunately, we live in a time when it’s easier than ever to share our secrets with friends and strangers alike. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter and blogging and video sharing and all that good stuff, a decision to give up drinking can easily be publicized for all to see. Which is precisely what I did. I fired up my laptop and wrote an open letter on my blog, explaining that I had a serious problem with alcohol and asking for the support of those around me.
Of course, I was lucky. I had a reasonably well-read blog and a few thousand Twitter followers. After writing my “The Trouble With Drink, The Trouble With Me” post, roughly 250,000 people clicked on the link to read it. That was a major incentive to stick to my promise.
But you don’t need anywhere near that kind of audience for public quitting to be effective. Posting on Facebook or Twitter for just your friends to see will have almost the same effect as posting on a blog. If you’re worried about your professional reputation if you “come out” as an addict, you might want to consider sending a group e-mail to a dozen or so people you trust. Believe me, word will get around. The key is for people you encounter on a day-to-day basis to be aware that you have a problem and are trying to fix it. Those people—not a group of well-meaning strangers in AA—are the ones who will be your greatest allies in quitting.
You can pick up the short-form recovery memoir on your iPad, Kindle or Nook for just $1.99.
Actress Raquel Welch thinks that Americans are all sex addicts. Calling today’s society an “era of porn,” she complains that there's no longer any anticipation or personalization in sex, only the exploitation of male libidos. “I think we’ve gotten to the point in our culture where we’re all sex addicts, literally," she tells Men's Health magazine. "We have equated happiness in life with as many orgasms as you can possibly pack in.” Her comments may cause surprise, given that 71-year-old Welch has been considered such a sex symbol herself. She's known for roles in films like Myra Breckinridge and One Million Years BC—for which she donned an ultra-skimpy animal skin bikini. She's also immortalized at the number two spot on Men’s Health's “Hottest 100 Women of All Time” list. But none of that alters her feeling that sexuality has become far too open in today's society. “Nobody remembers what it’s like to be left to form your own ideas about what’s erotic and sexual,” she says. “I don’t care if I’m being one of those old fogies who says, ‘Back in my day we didn’t have to hear about sex all the time.’ They’re ruining us with all the explanations and graphicness.”
A group called the San Francisco Drug Users' Union is campaigning to open the first supervised injection facility in the US. A similar site currently exists in Vancouver, where it's largely been considered a success. Advocates say it would not only help prevent Hep C and HIV infections for intravenous drug users who often use dirty needles, but also provide a gateway to other health services, including rehabilitation, for addicts who wouldn't otherwise seek help. “I think people feel that drug users are powerless or are impossible to work with, that we can’t get it together,” says the Drug Users' Union's co-founder, Isaac Jackson. "But I don’t think that’s true.” The Union has won support from the Hepatitis C Task Force and several of last fall's mayoral candidates, like John Avalos, a leader of the progressive bloc of the city’s all-Democrat Board of Supervisors. But a spokeswoman for San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee confirms that he opposes the idea, believing the city already has ample tools to tackle the problem of IV drug use, like syringe exchanges. The San Francisco group is one of several in the North America advocating for chronic drug users—promoting the reality that people do use drugs, rather than promoting drug use itself. The organization has struggled to overcome stigma: "[People] think of union as a kind of trade union," says Jackson. "They don’t understand that we’re using ‘union’ in the sense of a consumer union. And we’re consumers of drug policies, we’re consumers of rehab, we’re consumers of drugs.”
Last week we reported on a tweaker's destruction of the world's fifth oldest tree. Now—in case further evidence were needed of the harm that smoking causes others—comes news that two experimenting boys set fire to an ancient Gothic castle in Slovakia that was erected in the early 14th century. The local lads, aged 11 and 12, were sitting on the grass below the walls of Krasna Horka castle on Saturday, attempting to light cigarettes. Instead, they set fire to the tinder-dry lawn and the castle was soon ablaze. The combined efforts of 84 firefighters saved most of the historical collections housed within Krasna Horka, which dates from at least 1333, but major structural damage occurred to the edifice. Cops have launched a criminal prosecution of the hapless kids for general endangerment, while the Prime Minster of neighboring Hungary is said to have offered financial help towards the repairs. "The castle's roof burned down completely, as well as the new exhibition in the palace and the bell tower," says a museum representative. "Three bells melted in the fire."