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 As a result Delpopolo may have his seventh-place finish rescinded. He may also have to return his diploma for competing in the Games and have his accreditation withdrawn.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."
A new documentary about comedian Russell Brand lays bare the lifelong grip addiction can hold on an individual—even one with long-term recovery. In Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery, BBC3 follows the 37-year-old as he goes back to visit the Focus 12 Centre in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where he got clean in 2002. The program shows disquieting footage of Brand in his 20s, leaning over the heated foil to smoke heroin before leaning back against the wall and staring dead-eyed in to the camera; it then flashes forward to Brand in present day, watching the old clip with his friend Martino Sclavi at the London Savoy Hotel. Referring to his young self as “a proper little junkie,” Brand says: "This is when you know it's a disease. It doesn't matter that I was sat in that flat in Hackney and now I'm in the Savoy. I'm jealous of me then. It doesn't make a difference to me. The money, the fame, the power, the sex, the women—none of it. I'd rather be a drug addict."
The Rock Of Ages star has been clean for 10 years, and has been candid about his various addictions (drugs, alcohol, sex) and his struggles in sobriety. He has been a public voice for addiction and recovery, even speaking in UK parliament about his belief that addiction should be treated as a disease rather than a criminal issue. “The consequences of my actions affected so many people,” he says in the documentary, displaying a radical level of candor—even for Brand. “Heroin is a greedy drug. First it’ll take your money. Then it’ll take your friends, your family, your car, your house. Then it’s going to take bits of your body. In the end I used to be scoring with people that had eyes missing, limbs missing.” He added: “You’ll take it until it takes your life. It’ll take everything until the last thing and you’ll gladly give it that rather than give up drugs. When you are a drug addict, the idea of not taking drugs is inconceivable. This was the beginning of a life-long journey of doing things differently.”
- Court, Treatment Programs Help Young Heroin Addicts [Santa Fe New Mexican]
- Arizona Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applicants Await Lottery [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Tunisia Press Freedom Prize Winner Arrested Over Alcohol Claims [Tunisialive]
- Is "Gaming Addiction" a Real Disorder? [CNN]
- More Doctors Needed to Fight Addiction in Singapore [TodayOnline]
- "I'd Rather Be a Drug Addict": Russel Brand Still Battles With Heroin Addiction [Daily Mail]
Want to know how to make money selling drugs? 50 Cent and Eminem will tell you. The rappers feature in a documentary of the same name that takes an in-depth look at the US War on Drugs and the battle to enforce tougher drug laws. Fiddy and Em are just some of the big names in interviewed for the film, which also includes hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, actress Susan Sarandon and Fix interviewee Major Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The movie's synopsis (sarcastically) promises to show viewers, "10 easy steps that show you how to make money from drugs, featuring a series of interviews with drug dealers, prison employees and lobbyists arguing for tougher drug laws.” The movie will make its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, from September 6-16. Drugs and hip-hop will be well represented: Snoop Dogg—sorry, Snoop Lion—will also premiere his documentary Reincarnated.
American tourists flocking to Mexico's touristy areas for a "relaxing" summer vacation have recently been targeted by the country's violent drug traffickers. Most recently, tourists in hot spot Puerto Peñasco, in the state of Sonora, have received a warning about a local cartel shoot-out on July 19, as well as various recent attacks targeting Americans. One US citizen was wounded during a home invasion, while in a separate incident a number of vacationers were held at gunpoint and robbed—drug gangs were blamed for both. "We're not telling people not to go to Rocky Point…we’re just alerting them to what happened,” says consulate official Chad Cummins. More than 50,000 people have lost their lives as drug cartels battle for control of regions in Mexico—but despite this, the country's tourism industry has thrived, reaching a record high of 22.7 million foreign visitors in 2011. This has been able to happen because much of the violence has been clustered in border-towns like Juarez, leaving tourist-laden areas like Sonora in relative peace. But this could be changing—with suggestions of a possible turf battle emerging in the area. “You don't see someone take out a bunch of people...unless one of two things is happening: a problem within the cartel or another cartel creeping into the territory," says retired DEA agent Anthony Coulson. Local officials dismiss this possibility. Fernando Soto, Puerto Peñasco's director of international relations, claims, “This was an isolated incident that took place far from the tourist areas."
Solvent abuse as a worldwide epidemic may have slipped largely under the radar. While practices like "glue-sniffing" or "huffing" are often overshadowed by other drug stories, they're a widespread method of getting high—particularly in economically depressed areas of the world. Millions inhale volatile chemical solvents such as those found in paint thinner, tire glue, nail polish, hairspray and Wite-Out. In small doses, these solvents create a euphoric high; in higher concentrations, they can cause hallucinations, slurred speech, unconsciousness and even death. Solvents appeal to a very specific audience; male users outnumber females five to one, and some estimates say that 15% of the world's teenage boys have experimented with solvents. In Ireland, as many as 22% of 15 to 16-year-olds are solvent abusers, and in the UK, butane—the country’s most commonly misused solvent—caused 52% of solvent-related deaths in 2000. The ready availability of solvents endears them to kids—children in many areas of the developing world can buy a small tube of inner tube repair glue for the equivalent of 10 cents. But children's bodies and brains are particularly susceptible to long-term damage. As if that weren’t bad enough, a large number of first-time users end up dying—in 2006, 40% of solvent abuse deaths were attributed to first-time experimentation. Despite the relatively low profile of glue-sniffing in the US, 2.1 million Americans aged 12 or older abused inhalants in 2009, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.