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Addiction Treatment

8/29/12 1:57pm

Korea Treats Addiction With Cats, Hedgehogs


The pets are a step towards forging human
relationships. Photo via

South Korea has implemented the world's most adorable addiction treatment. The government-funded Korea Internet Addiction Center (KIAC) is giving out "animal companions" to those diagnosed with Internet addiction in the online gaming-obsessed nation, to help them learn to form bonds with living beings. The project, which began in May, is based on a US report that animal-assisted therapy could help people suffering from physical or mental problems—including addiction. “We give out the pets for free and also provide 200,000 won for food and vaccinations. There are choices of animals other than dogs or cats, such as rabbits and hedgehogs,” says KIAC researcher and counselor Seo Bokyung. Applicants meet with a counselor before receiving their pets, and sign a pledge not to abuse or abandon the animals. After receiving their pets, they must hand in a monthly journal to the center about their relationship with their animal, and receive monthly visits from KIAC officials. “Animals help addicts turn their attention from the Internet and focus on the living being in front of them. They can build relationships with the animals through communication, exchange of emotions, and by taking care of them," says Seo Bo-kyung. "Such practices on forming and maintaining relationships will also help their human relationships, as addicts usually have problems interacting with people as well.” 

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By May Wilkerson

Bad Sports

8/29/12 12:48pm

Tennis Players Dope Too, Says James Blake


James Blake isn't pointing any fingers,
but... Photo via

Cycling certainly doesn't have a monopoly on performance enhancing drugs. Veteran tennis player James Blake—who has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world—said in a press conference after his first round US Open match that even though the doping system in place for tennis players is world-class, some pros still find ways to beat the system. "I'm sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers," said Blake. "With this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the US Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead. It's unfortunate, but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system." Players on both the ATP and WTA Tour are subject to random, unannounced drug testing throughout the year, even during the off-season, and most notify doping authorities if they plan to go on vacation. "Of course at times it's inconvenient to me when I get woken up at 6 am to pee in a cup. It's their job. I know they're doing it," said Blake. Doping scandal in tennis include US player Wayne Odesnik getting caught trying to import Human Growth Hormone into Australia in 2010, which led to a one-year suspension from the tour. Canadian Simon Larose retired in 2005 after testing positive for cocaine, while Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino was suspended for three months in 2002 after she also tested positive for cocaine.  

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By McCarton Ackerman

Medical Marijuana

8/29/12 11:54am

LA Medical Pot Activists Fight Back on Ban


Will some dispensaries be allowed to stay?
Photo via

Medical marijuana activists in Los Angeles aren't going away quietly when it comes to the city's ban on medical pot dispensaries. They say they're expecting to turn in 50,000 signatures of people against the decision to the city clerk today, hoping to force a ballot referendum to repeal the ban. Once the signatures are submitted, the ordinance will be temporarily suspended while the names are verified against voter registration information. If enough of the names are found to be valid, the ban will be suspended further until voters have a chance to decide the issue. And because the ban isn't supposed to take effect until next Wednesday, the signatures should arrive within plenty of time. "The city needs a small number of well-regulated and patient-centered dispensaries," says councilman Paul Koretz. "[Without them], the city will be stuck with no rules and no protections again." The ban was passed by the council last month and prohibits the sale of marijuana, although allows groups of three or fewer would still be allowed to cultivate and share weed. Opponents say the ban violates a state law guaranteeing patients safe access to medical marijuana, because most people aren't able to grow medical-grade pot.

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By McCarton Ackerman

addiction treatment

8/29/12 10:51am

Can Neurofeedback Keep You Clean?


Small electrodes monitor brain activity.
Photo via

Neurofeedback—also known as EEG biofeedback, or NFT (neurofeedback training)—is described as a way of helping your brain to function more efficiently. The science fiction-y sounding technique involves applying electrodes to the scalp to provide "trainees" with real-time information on their brain activity, with the aim of guiding them towards healthier brain patterns. The technique is employed by numerous substance abuse rehabs, and studies claim promising indications for its treatment of disorders as varied as ADHD, autism, headaches, insomnia, TBI and other pain.

Richard Davis MS, LPC, BCN, the president of ISNR (International Society for Neurofeedback Research) and a neurofeedback practitioner, says he's seen lots of success with addicts. “I have worked with most all addictions and my specialty has become sex addiction,” he tells The Fix. “I have also worked with alcohol/drug abuse cases, process addictions, and eating disorders.” He also claims an astonishing success rate of 60-80% of clients staying sober even at their five- and 10-year follow-ups. “Neurofeedback treatment for addictions helps to reduce or normalize anxiety, obsessiveness, compulsivity, and helps the individual to better self-regulate,” says Davis. “In addition, neurofeedback also works to reduce or eliminate cravings.”

Jarod Grant is one addict who vouches for neurofeedback's effectiveness. After years of grueling sports training in his teens, the Californian suffered extreme pain in his twenties. “My body just hurt all the time, so naturally I developed an addiction to painkillers,” he tells The Fix. “I tried rehab, but it just never really worked for me.” When a therapist suggested neurofeedback, Grant was open to the idea—especially since neurofeedback is also used for pain management. “I can honestly say that it helped me a lot. It helped lessen some of the pain, and at this point in my life I am clean," he says. "Mostly it has helped me with the anxieties and stress that come with addiction... I can’t say that it will be a godsend for everyone, but it definitely was for me! So I would suggest to give it a try if you’re not having much luck with recovery elsewhere.”

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By Valerie Tejeda


8/29/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 29, 2012


Shia LaBeouf takes his method acting to the
extreme. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

literary intrigue

8/28/12 5:00pm

David Foster Wallace's Not-So-Sober Plot


DFW in his tough-guy persona. Photo via

To anyone who has read his fiction, it's evident that wunderkind American author David Foster Wallace, who took his own life by hanging four years ago, was intimately acquainted with what he called “substances.” Main characters in his novels, most notably tennis prodigy Hal Incandenza and hapless burglar Don Gately in Infinite Jest, his 1,097-page masterwork, wrestled vividly with addiction to everything from run-of-the-mill marijuana to weapons-grade pharmaceutical narcotics like Dilaudid. And, though he was more circumspect about his own personal struggles, bits and pieces came out over the years, including an anonymous (yet clearly Wallace-penned) “testimonial” for a rehab called Granada House in Allston, Mass.

Now, with the release on Thursday of a new biography of Wallace by D.T. Max, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, new details are emerging about the postmodern writer’s history of drug and alcohol addiction, treatment and recovery—including a salacious snippet about how Wallace, who had become enamored of the writer Mary Karr, author of the alcoholism memoir Lit, actually hatched a plan to kill her husband “with a gun he tried to buy from a guy in recovery,” according to Rolling Stone. Although Karr found out about the plan—when confronted, Wallace managed to pin it on a friend—the two did eventually become an item, perhaps proving the old AA adage that, in recovery, “the odds are good that you’ll meet somebody, but the goods are going to be odd.”

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By Hunter R. Slaton


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