You might think a man with a painful erection that persists for half a day would decide to follow his, uh, nose to the hospital. But David Miller, 30, of Manhattan's Upper East Side allegedly decided to rob his dad instead, reports the New York Post. Cops cuffed Miller—who suffers from a condition called priapism, causing unwelcome erections for over four hours—for allegedly resorting to robbery to get the painkiller-money to help ease his situation. Tommy Miller, 57, suspects his son is addicted to oxycodone, and he may just be right—cops say he broke into his father's home, pulled out a knife and declared, "I want you out, and I want money." Miller Sr. had his son arrested on charges of burglary and attempted robbery. “My son has a very rare disease, he has a priapism, which means he gets an erection that lasts five or six hours, and it’s very painful,” he explained. “They gave him oxycodone. That’s his problem." It's not the first time Miller Jr. has been accused of robbery to feed his habit—earlier this year, he was charged with pulling out a kitchen knife and saying to a man sitting on a park bench—with his trademark directness—"Give me $20! Give me $20!" The "victim" overpowered him and called the cops instead. The causes of priapism are often obscure, but may include black widow spider bites, carbon monoxide poisoning—and the abuse of prescription medications, marijuana or cocaine. David Miller, who has a rap sheet of 11 arrests running back to 2006, has been bailed out by his dad in the past, but at press time was still locked up with some hard men on Rikers Island.
To lose one prototype iPhone may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness. Especially when both bouts of "carelessness" take place in drinking establishments. According to a CNET report, an Apple employee left a classified, unreleased iPhone at a Mexican tequila lounge called Cava22, in the Mission district of San Francisco back in July. The guilty geek, whose desperation can well be imagined, apparently put in multiple calls to the bar's owner Jose Valle about a lost iPhone—but to no avail. "I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong," remarked Valle. After the culprit came clean to his company, Apple representatives told police that the unidentified phone—which may be a version of the iPhone 5, rumored to be due for release very soon—is "priceless." Then they electronically traced the missing device to a house in nearby Bernal Heights. But when they paid a visit to its male occupant with the cops in tow, a search revealed nothing. Changing tack, the Apple reps reportedly offered the suspect hard cash for the phone's return, with no questions asked. But they were too late—it's believed the device may already have been sold on Craigslist for just $200. It's a familiar feeling for the technology giant. The same thing happened last year, when another Apple employee, computer engineer Robert Gray Powell abandoned a then-unreleased iPhone 4 in a German beer garden in Redwood City, California, after celebrating his birthday. Gadget blog Gizmodo paid $5000 for the prized prototype to two lucky finders—whose luck ran out when charges were filed against them last month. It's likely that a stern text or two will have been sent to hard-partying Apple staff following the latest booze-related blunder.
- Florida Shutting Pill Mill Clinics [New York Times]
- Is Shoplifting the Opiate of the Masses? [Addiction Inbox]
- Labor Day Warning: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over [Forbes]
- College Professor Allegedly Led Motorcycle Gang, Drug Ring [LA Times]
- Indiana Survey Shows Teen Marijuana Use Rises, Alcohol Falls [Indiana Daily Student]
- Heroin Use Fueling Madison County Burglary Spree [BND.com]
- Inside Mexico's Drug War: Slideshow [Washington Post]
- De La Hoya's Coke-Fueled Drag Photos Are Real [CBS]
Hot on the heels of yesterday's International Overdose Awareness Day comes the first day of September, AKA National Recovery Month—an observance instigated by the government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It's now in its 22nd year of trying to educate Americans on how treatment and mental health services can turn lives around. But it's fair to say that the disease of addiction, despite killing many thousands of Americans annually, still lags behind conditions such as breast cancer or Parkinson's when it comes to visibility and awareness. This year's efforts to change that involve 140 government entities at state, federal and local levels, as well as hundreds more non-governmental organizations. Over 600 community events are officially listed so far, covering every state but New Hampshire and South Dakota. Mass events include Hands Across the Bridge on Labor Day, when hundreds will join hands over the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, and the Philadelphia Walk for Recovery on September 24, a day when many more gatherings are being organized by the advocacy group Faces and Voices of Recovery. Meanwhile, one determined recovering addict named Sandra Huffman is currently undertaking a 1300 mile trek from Florida to Philadelphia to raise money and awareness.
Numerous rehab facilities are getting in on the act. The large Hazelden network, for example, is holding multiple events. Howard Meitiner, the President and CEO of Phoenix House, which runs over 120 treatment programs, told The Fix, "We hope that National Recovery Month will inspire the millions of people who are in recovery to speak out." He added, "The more we increase the public visibility of recovery, the more we can reduce the stigma associated with substance abuse treatment." Phoenix House and The Fix will co-host a Twitter chat about the different paths to recovery on September 21. Media outlets involved in promoting National Recovery Month include Talk Therapy Television and a campaign is urging people to pledge support on Facebook. SAMHSA also offers treatment information and referral online. One of the main aims of all this is to put millions of Americans who have overcome addictions and mental disorders on the map—demonstrating that recovery can and does happen.
A drive to banish smoking from college campuses is rapidly gaining momentum, reports CNN. More than 500 US campuses now prohibit the habit entirely—even in parking lots—and over 120 have added themselves to the no-smoking list just this year. Many of them use a softly-softly approach pioneered by Ty Patterson, former Vice President of Student Affairs at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Missouri, which became the first 100% smoke-free campus in the country as recently as 2003. He predicts that virtually all American colleges will adopt his policy within 10 years. According to Patterson's model, students are educated about the dangers of smoking and merely asked politely to extinguish their cigarettes during the first semester after a ban. Then the penalties kick in—gradually, of course. A first violation earns a warning. Second or third violations lead to $15 fines or two hours' hard labor picking up tobacco litter—which might not be overly onerous if a school's policy has been successful. Further offenses result in probation or expulsion. Whatever the objections of Philosophy or Politics majors, evidence suggests that these policies can be effective. At the University of Kentucky, for example, where a small student protest greeted a ban in 2008, enrollment in a tobacco cessation program more than quadrupled in the following year. The institution improbably uses packs of "Tobacco-Free Take Action!" volunteers to patrol the grounds, respectfully re-educating offenders and asking them to extinguish their cigarettes. One of the volunteers, squeaky-clean senior Melissa McCann, told CNN that the 10 smokers she approached this summer all complied. She didn't reveal how many of them added, "But just give me five minutes first..."
A dangerous new habit has been credited as the most common current cause of airline accidents. So-called "automation addiction"—rusty pilots' tendency to rely more on automated flight systems and autopilot features than on the training that landed them in the cockpit in the first place—has cost the lives of hundreds of passengers in some 51 “loss of control” commercial accidents over the past five years. Autopilot technology means that these days pilots only need “fly” the plane themselves during take-off and landing—that's roughly three minutes of action. Pilots sometimes “abdicate too much responsibility to automated systems,” concluded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) draft study obtained by the Associated Press. This lack of practice weakens their response times to mid-flight problems, mechanical failures and emergencies. Rory Kay, an airline captain and co-chairman of a Federal Aviation Administration committee on pilot training, recognizes automation addiction as "a new breed of accident," concluding, “We're forgetting how to fly.” One case in point was a Continental Airlines crash near Buffalo, NY, in 2009, which claimed the lives of all 49 people on board. An investigation found no mechanical or structural problems that would have prevented the plane from flying had the captain responded correctly, attributing the disaster to pilot error. The FAA recommends pilots wean themselves off the computers and take personal control of their airplanes more often, sharpening their skills for when they're needed most.