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Celebrity Rehab

7/25/12 3:11pm

Rehab Was a Friend to Matthew Perry

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He's been there before. Photo via

Rehab was there for Matthew Perry when the rain started to pour—and now that experience is helping inform his new role as the star of NBC's New Comedy Series Go On. The friendly face of Chandler Bing will be playing Ryan King, a sports radio talk show host who joins a support group to help him cope with the death of his wife. "I don't have a lot of experience with grieving, but I have a ton of experience sitting in circles and talking about my problems," says the former Friends star, who famously spent time in-and-out of rehab for painkiller and alcohol addiction. “I've been doing that for a long, long time so I didn't have to do much research." The actor says he believes in the value of twelve-step programs, and his new TV character—although not an addict—can benefit from learning that "people need people. Not being alone with it, that's what he has to learn." But support groups don't have to be a dismal experience, says Perry, and there is humor to be gleaned from the experience. “The interesting thing is that common bond creates a lot of laughter, a lot of jokes, and a lot of funny." Ever since Friends, Perry has found himself attracted to darker comedies, and particularly characters who are broken and on a path to self-betterment. "I get to do both things I really enjoy; comedy and drama. I hope I'm playing him in a sympathetic way while still being funny."

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By Gabrielle Wuhl

college Drinking

7/25/12 2:06pm

Alcoholic Energy Drinks Linked to More Casual Sex

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A libidinous combination. Photo via

Energy drinks cause hyperactivity, and booze lowers your inhibitions—so it's perhaps not entirely shocking that combining the two would lead to an increase in casual sex, especially among college students. A new study from the University of Buffalo reveals that students who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED's)—such as Red Bull and vodka, or Four Loko—are more likely to report having a casual partner and/or being intoxicated during their most recent sexual encounter. Previous research has linked alcoholic energy drink consumption with dangerous behaviors such as binge drinking, drunk driving and fighting—and now getting drunkenly laid, with a risk of STI's, can be added to the list. "Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to unintentional overdrinking, because the caffeine makes it harder to assess your own level of intoxication," said study author Kathleen Miller. "AmEDs have stronger priming effects than alcohol alone. In other words, they increase the craving for another drink, so that you end up drinking more overall." Miller says the increased popular of alcoholic energy drinks may be contributing to the "hook up culture" that is prevalent on college campuses. However, the study found that AmED's do not lead to an increase in risky sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex. Participants in the study were more likely to use a condom during sex with a casual partner than during sex with a steady partner, regardless of their AmED use.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Medical Marijuana

7/25/12 1:00pm

Los Angeles Bans Pot Dispensaries

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A neighborhood menace? Photo via

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban storefront medical marijuana shops until the state’s Supreme Court addresses the drug’s still-unclear legal status. If approved by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa—who supports the measure—the ban would go into effect after 30 days. The so-called “soft ban” would still allow hospices and home health agencies to provide medical marijuana, and individuals would be allowed to grow and share cannabis in their homes or apartments. The idea is to provide safe and affordable access to marijuana for those who legitimately need it, but to clean up the neighborhoods that have been negatively impacted by dispensaries. "Relief is coming in the form of having a more focused and intense crackdown on these dispensaries that cause problems in our neighborhoods," says Councilman Jose Huizar. "If we try to move forward to regulate [storefronts], we will fail. It would be an exercise in futility." The state is awaiting a decision from its Supreme Court on whether or not local governments can ban medical marijuana clinics, but a hearing has not yet been set. L.A. passed an ordinance two years ago that was supposed to shut down hundreds of dispensaries and cap the number at 70, but legal challenges prevented it from being effective, and it expired last month—subsequently, a surge of dispensaries have cropped up. According to officials, 762 collectives have registered with the city, and as many as 200 more could exist. "We need to start with a clean slate," says Councilman Mitchell Englander. "Los Angeles has experimented with marijuana and has failed."

While many are relieved that neighborhoods with dispensaries will be cleaned up, others are worried about how the closing of so many stores will impact patients. Kris Hermes, a spokesperson for Americans For Safe Access, tells The Fix: "It's a slap in the face to people who want a safe and legal means to obtain their medication, a medication that they can rightfully use under state law. There's no way you can have a public health policy that denies medication to tens of thousands of your residents without some consequence. These patients aren't going away." The concern is that people will turn to illegal means to get the drug, increasing crime and putting a strain on law enforcement. Medical marijuana advocates are exploring various tactics to fight the ban, such as gathering signatures for a referendum to overturn the ban or supporting common sense proposals on regulating a certain number of dispensaries. Says Hermes: "We're confident that at the end, we will convince city officials in Los Angeles that the common sense approach of regulation is the way to go".

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By Chrisanne Grise

Celebrity Rehab

7/25/12 11:50am

Celeb Rehab Star "Exposed Baby to Meth" 

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Things have turned ugly for the former
beauty queen. Photo via

Former Celebrity Rehab cast member Kari Ann Peniche is being accused by her estranged husband Justin Williams of exposing their 10-month old son to meth. Williams claims he took the baby for a hair follicle test after noticing behavior from Peniche that suggested she was using again, and the tests came back positive for the drug. He also said that there is specific evidence to suggest the former beauty queen has used within the last two months. "(The baby) has a habit of sucking on Kari Ann's hair and clothes and I became concerned that he could be affected by drug residue," said Williams in legal documents. "I do not want him to continue to be exposed to smoke from meth or to accidentally ingest illegal drugs while with Kari Ann." The court papers are now demanding sole legal and physical custody for the father and asking for Peniche to be banned from any unsupervised contact with the child. Williams also wants Peniche to submit to weekly drug tests and have her visitation rights revoked entirely if she tests positive. Peniche and her attorneys have yet to comment.

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By McCarton Ackerman

bath Salts

7/25/12 11:01am

Bath Salts May Be as Addictive as Cocaine

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Bath salts are pretty....addictive. Photo via

Bath salts—not the stuff you use to make your bathtub smell like lavender—are just as habit-forming as cocaine, according to a new study published in the Behavioral Brain Research journal. The designer drug of the season gnawed its way in to the public consciousness after being falsely blamed for the Miami cannibal attack, and the ever-changing properties of the chemical compound have made it difficult to test. Scientists recently tested the drug's effect on mice using "intracranial self-stimulation" (ICSS)—a method that has been used for decades as a way to look at how drugs activate the reward circuitry in the brain, which can lead to addiction. Researchers trained the mice to run on a wheel and rewarded them by stimulating electrodes that had been implanted in their brains. “If you let them, an animal will work to deliver self-stimulation to the exclusion of everything else—it won't eat, it won't sleep,” says Dr. C.J. Malanga, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Certain drugs increase the brain's sensitivity to reward stimulation, which in turn makes them work harder to receive the reward. The researchers measured the mice’s wheel-spinning efforts before, during, and after they received doses of cocaine or bath salts, and they found that bath salts had the same reward potency as cocaine. These findings suggest that bath salts, although marketed until recently as a relatively benign "legal high", could be more addictive than people may realize. "All drugs of abuse, regardless of how they act in the brain—heroin, morphine, cocaine amphetamine, alcohol, do the same thing to ICSS, they increase its rewarding value," Malanga said. A ban on bath salts in the US was signed on July 9. 

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

7/25/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: July 25, 2012

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NY's very own cannabis van. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

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