"Pro-ana" websites that controversially support and encourage eating disorders may actually have a practical element of offering anorexics the support of an online community, reports Fix columnist Maia Szalavitz. The content of these 'pro-ana' sites—such as “thinspriation” images of emaciated celebrities and models, and tips on how to stay anorexic—can be alarming, and Yahoo, Tumblr and Pinterest for example have banned them. But a new study by researchers at Indiana University actually found that these websites may provide a rare network of support for those suffering from the widely stigmatized, and often fatal, illness. “The Internet is a very good place for people to find support from similar others,” explains Daphna Yeshua-Katz, a doctoral student at Indiana University, who co-authored the study, adding that those with eating disorders often suffer in silence and isolation. Of the 300 pro-ana bloggers Yeshua-Katz contacted, only 33 were willing to be interviewed, due to the private and controversial nature of the sites—but those she did speak with shared the belief that the sites allow anorexics to express themselves in a place where they would not be judged.
“There was no one in my life that I could speak to openly about what I was feeling and experiencing. I wanted to have a voice that I didn’t have to censor for fear of upsetting people I knew or having them judge me,” said one of the anonymous bloggers. But as Szalavitz points out, a support community of people who are still actively participating in self-destructive behavior could reinforce and possibly prevent recovery—since these friendships may focus not on recovery, but on remaining sick. “They go online to vent and they find friends. But at same time they are aware that being a pro-ana blogger might encourage their eating disorder and those of other vulnerable young girls,” says Yeshua-Katz, “I’m not saying it’s only beneficial or all bad; it’s a double-edged sword.” She adds that she doesn’t support banning the sites as almost all of these “thinspiration” photos can be found in mainstream fashion magazine and websites. “I think we need to provide [people with anorexia] with better ways to lead them into recovery online.”
- Legal Marijuana Backers Raise $3 Million in Two US States [Reuters]
- New Breathalyzer Law Drives Anger in France [LA Times]
- Kentucky Sees Surge in Addicted Infants [USA Today]
- Demand for Addict Care Would Rise if Medicaid Expands [Santa Fe New Mexican]
- Macaulay Culkin Lives to Celebrate 32nd Birthday as Heroin Controversy Dies Down [International Business Times]
- Dez Bryant Can't Go to Strip Clubs, Drink Alcohol Under New Rules [USA Today]
In these times of economic plenty, the federal government is trying to close down 23 more businesses in Washington state. They happen to be medical marijuana dispensaries, which—thanks to medical marijuana initiative I-692—have been legal by state law there since December 1998. Seattle US Attorney Jenny Durkan gives a familiar excuse for the latest crackdown: she’s “thinking about the children.”
"We all work hard to create a safe zone for kids in school,” said Durkan, announcing the move. “We need to enforce one message for our students: Drugs have no place in or near our schools." The federal government has decided the dispensaries in question are “too close” to some schools in western Washington, and the DEA have sent letters threatening the dispensary owners with criminal prosecution or asset forfeiture if they don’t close within 30 days. Similar tactics have already driven three dispensaries out of business in the central Washington town of Wenatchee.
Interestingly, the move comes as a national survey shows drug use is indeed rampant among US school kids: high school students claim that 17% of their peers use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes during the school day—and 91% of them report marijuana for sale on-site. Which raises the question of why the DEA is focusing on marijuana being sold by dispensaries within 1,000 yards of Washington high schools—dispensaries that rigidly enforce age restrictions and require a doctor’s recommendation—when it's clear that teens don’t even have to leave their school grounds to procure pot.
The picture is further confused by the contrasting indications of studies on whether or not states' legalization of medical marijuana increases teen use. One major study by Columbia University researchers found that MMJ states have higher rates of marijuana abuse and dependence. Another, published in the Annals of Epidemiology in September 2011, found slightly higher rates of use specifically among 12 to 17-year-olds. On the other hand, a more recent non-peer reviewed study—an analysis of data by economists from three US universities—found that not to be the case. "There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers," said Professor Daniel I. Rees of Colorado Denver University, one of the co-authors, "but there's no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use."
The question of whether the DEA are really “thinking about the children," or rather just making a cynical effort to push back against the growing wave of support for states to set their own medical marijuana laws without federal interference, remains unanswered. Watch this space. The fight will get dirtier in the fall, when voters in Washington, Colorado and Oregon go to the polls on bills to legalize recreational marijuana use—putting those states in direct opposition with federal law.
Sacramento police have taken down a pot and meth-dealing taco truck after a three month operation called “Operation Dirty Taco.” Two brothers, Juan and Ernesto Paez, set up their Mexican food operation outside a convenience store and sold both drugs and tacos worth around $50,000 a month—serving the substances in the Styrofoam box along with the grub. The food served wouldn't win any Michelin stars, according to narcotics agents: “The tacos weren’t that good; they looked to be rather dry and unedible,” says one. But the drugs were apparently gourmet quality. And the product synergy of drugs and tacos, selling munchies and marijuana in one location, is arguably marketing genius (you'd also be doing yourself a favor with soft-shelled tacos after your teeth get meth-rot). The drugs-and-taco truck is currently parked back at the family taqueria. Cops say the rest of the family may not have known about the scheme the brothers cooked up together—not to mention the shamefully awful tacos.
An outbreak of gang violence in Chicago has local officials concerned that the city has become a hub for drug trafficking cartels from Mexico. After eight shootings last night, two of them fatal, 351 people have died from gun violence in Chicago in 2012 so far—a 30% increase from last year. According to the DEA, the city's geographic location and wide variety of transportation have beckoned at least three of Mexico's biggest drug crime organizations—including the notorious Zetas and Sinaloa cartels—who are now battling over turf and distribution, and turning the Illinois city into a "Mexican border town." "You've got to look at Chicago from really a perspective of logistics, of business logistics. It's an ideal spot to set up shop," says local DEA officer Jack Riley. "We know that the majority of the drugs here in Chicago, cartels are responsible for. We know that the majority of the murders are gang related. So it is very clear to see the connection and the role." The problem isn't confined to Chicago—other midwestern cities, like Milwaukee, St. Louis and Detroit, also have reported cartel activity and violence.
Rumors of Britney Spears’ drug use and reported bipolar disorder have been extensive. But now there’s a new wrinkle in the ongoing saga of her mental health: reports surfaced today via court documents that the singer's ongoing conservatorship may be the result of a medical issue—in this case, a personality disorder. If that’s the case, she’s in good company on the judging panel of The X-Factor.
The exact circumstances of the June 17 death of Celebrity Rehab alum Rodney King, whose police brutality incident spurred the 1991 Los Angeles riots, have remained mysterious. But his autopsy report clears one thing up: King was under the influence at the time of his death, with PCP, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol found in his system.
- Teen Mom Jenelle Evans Quits Smoking [Gather]
The stars of MTV’s hit reality series Teen Mom are well known for their bad habits, but one Teen Mom is cleaning up her act. Troubled Jenelle Evans has dropped her nicotine habit and—in true reality star form—announced it to the world via Twitter: “So I have officially stopped smoking ciggs! :) GO MEEEE!"
- Machine Gun Kelly Spits Vodka Into a Fan’s Mouth [Miami New Times]
Rapper Machine Gun Kelly (known professionally as MGK) has seen his profile rise dramatically in recent months. It appears that stardom may have gone to his head—unless he was always prone to giving his lady-friends the “baby bird.” That’s what he did at a recent club appearance, when he spat vodka into a female fan’s mouth. The incident was captured on video. (Disclaimer: It’s not for those with weak stomachs.)
- Eli Roth: Quentin Tarantino Saved Me From Being Roofied [San Francisco Chronicle]
The actor and director Eli Roth narrowly avoided an ugly scene a few years ago when he was nearly roofied by women he met in Las Vegas. The unlikely hero who kept him from an unfortunate end, was none other than the iconic Quentin Tarantino. The Pulp Fiction legend apparently swooped in to help Roth escape the clutches of a pair of con artists, posing as a mother and daughter, who drugged him at a Sin City after-party.