An anonymous Hollywood actress has penned an open letter to xojane.com to say that she is finally kicking her long-standing addiction to Adderall—and credits pill addict blogger Cat Marnell for inspiring her to quit. "Everyone around me is tweaked out of their minds, but I just flushed my pills down the toilet," declares the unknown starlet, who largely blames the medical community for the Adderall "epidemic." She began using the drug in 2008 when it was prescribed to her by a doctor, who was also charging her $2,000 per session. "It’s like getting me hooked on what is considered the socially acceptable, totally legal version of cocaine wasn’t enough for him," she writes. "He had to financially screw me, too. And thanks to medical jokes like him, everyone in this city is tweaked out of their brains on the stuff." The actress also admits that her use of the stimulant had wrecked her social life and was beginning to do the same to her career. "I was attracting the wrong men and creating dumb controversy," she writes. "Not on like a Lohan level, but flirting with it. I wouldn’t say I was a total trainwreck, but you could definitely hear the rumbling." Although she had been tempted to write for xoJane before about the dangers of Adderall use, she says it wasn't until reading the New York Times feature on Marnell that she decided to come clean, and quit using. "It made me sad," she writes. "It's time to stop. It's time to lead a more mindful existence. This column is dedicated to her. Let's leave it at that."
David Fitzpatrick, 46, spent almost half his life struggling with bipolar disorder, a battle that often resulted in self-harm. During childhood, he endured regular bullying from his older brother, and things only got worse when he got to college: his roommates delighted in frequently dumping liquids on his head. In his early 20s, Fitzpatrick began cutting himself. Despite years filled with stays in psychiatric hospitals, it took almost two decades before he could resist the compulsion to self-harm. His memoir, Sharp, which comes out today, describes his struggles and injuries in graphic detail: "...I sliced quickly into my skin, repeating two or three cuts along the arm," begins one of many harrowing passages. "I started to feel a rhythm, a nice pace as I watched the blood worm out of my wounds...I saw the white line of inner skin before the blood emerged." Such sections are hard to read. But the book's message is ultimately redemptive and hopeful.
“I wanted to show the total collapse of a man,” Fitzpatrick tells The Fix. “I saw it as a real, great writer challenge.” There was an addictive quality to his ordeal. “I had to see the blood,” he says. “There was a compulsion to see the blood. I had to leave a mark. I was so filled with self-loathing that I felt like I had to do it, like I was worthless.” After years of suffering, the support of his doctors, friends and family eventually got through to Fitzpatrick and helped lift his severe depression. And things started to get better quite suddenly: he earned his MFA, got a book deal and fell in love with the woman who is now his wife. “Part of me was like, maybe I don’t have a mental illness anymore,” he says. But when the dark thoughts returned, he realized he would likely be coping with the disease throughout his life: “It’s humbling to realize that you’re still susceptible, that I was kind-of tricking myself.” Fitzpatrick has talked to others who say they find every day a struggle, but that’s not now the case for him. “I don’t feel the constant temptation,” he tells us. “Maybe we’re just at different points of getting better.”
Most of all, Fitzpatrick hopes his story will help others struggling with self-injury. “Things can get better,” he says. “There are a lot of people around you who you might not think can help, but they can. Fixate on something like a favorite book, song, or band. It’s controllable and you can have a decent life. It doesn’t have to be blood and guts and darkness.”
Secondhand smoke can impact a child's vital cough reflex, new research finds, which could affect an estimated 18 million US youth ages 12-19, and 60% of children ages 3-11, who are consistently exposed to cigarette smoke. The new study, which appears in Tobacco and Nicotine Research, followed 38 healthy 10-17 year-olds, 17 of whom were regularly exposed to smoke and 21 who were never exposed. The children were then made to inhale concentrations of capsaicin—the chemical in chili peppers that will trigger a cough—from a nebulizer. Though adult smokers are known to have a less sensitive cough reflex compared to non-smokers, parents were also tested by measuring how much capsaicin it took to make the adults cough twice. The study found that the youth who were exposed to secondhand smoke needed twice as much capsaicin to trigger a cough reflex as compared to the non-smoking exposed kids, and the findings were mirrored in the parents. This means that the children exposed to smoke were less sensitive to environmental irritants: “Cough protects our lungs from potentially damaging environmental threats, such as chemicals and dust,” says study lead Dr. Julie Mennella, from Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “Living with a parent who smokes weakens this reflex, one of the most vital of the human body.” The study may help explain why diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis are more common among children of smokers. According to study co-author Dr. Paul Wise: “This study suggests that even if an exposed child is not coughing, his or her respiratory health may still be affected by secondhand smoke,”
- Tobacco: Uphill Battle for Antismoking Campaigns in Poor and Middle-Income Countries [New York Times]
- Mexico Murders Rise Least Since 2007 As Cartel Slayings Remain High [Business Week]
- New Jersey Senate Approves "Good Samaritan" Emergency Response Act [NJ Today]
- Smoking During Pregnancy Linked With Asthma in Children [Fox News]
- Most Drunk Driving Deaths Caused By Drivers With Twice Legal BAC Limit [Washington Post]
- Princeton Review's Top 20 Party, Sober Schools [ABC News]
Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett dropped the social programming equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the addiction recovery community in Philadelphia earlier this month, when he eliminated the welfare funding that pays for the vast majority of recovery housing in the city. General Assistance—a small monthly welfare cash payment of $205 for temporarily disabled single adults with no dependents—has for decades provided some relief to Pennsylvania's poorest of the poor. Philadelphia’s recovery houses—sober living spaces for homeless addicts coming off the streets—have long used GA payments coupled with food stamps (now called SNAP) to provide room and board for people whose only alternatives are homeless shelters and abandoned buildings. As The Fix reported, Philly recovery houses aren’t exactly posh, and their strict enforcement of abstinence and heavy 12-step regimens might rankle with some. But they provide a crucial service of last resort to many desperate people who would otherwise be out on the street. Except that now they are out on the street. Because with the elimination of General Assistance, this vast network of roughly 400 sober houses just blinked out of existence.
Social workers, legal aid attorneys and city human service agency staff have been meeting frantically for months in anticipation of this day, pregaming the possible outcomes of a massive hemorrhage of unstable, newly-recovering addicts back onto the streets. Does this blow up the city’s homeless shelter system? Does it spike crime during an already violent and chaotic summer? Maybe that's why the Philly Police Department has begun sweeps through Kensington—the neighborhood with the city's highest concentration of IV drug users—arresting addicts en masse? It's hard not to wonder cynically if this transfer of poor addicts from recovery house cots to jail cell bunks is really something Corbett is doing by accident.
Killing GA was at least unproductive, if not inhumane. It saves very little money in the short term, and will have huge mid-term costs: once spat out of recovery housing, addicts in early recovery will utilize far more expensive resources like homeless shelters, emergency rooms, hospital beds, detox beds and psych units, as well as prisons. Right now the situation is in flux, and it's unclear just how bad the outcome will be. But Philly's addiction professionals, who now have nowhere to send their clients who are coming out of detox, fear the worst.
Fans seem to consume the show Breaking Bad almost as voraciously as its characters make, sell and smoke meth—and America's addiction to the show already may be lending itself to some bad decision-making. The owner of an Albuquerque candy store has started selling blue-tinted sugar rock candy that resembles crystal, an idea she got after watching the show's star Bryan Cranston show off a bag of "candy meth" on The Late Show With David Letterman. "Crystal meth … yeah isn't the best thing in the world, it's not the best thing to replicate,” admits Debbie Hall, owner of The Candy Lady, where customers can purchase the meth-inspired treats for $1 a bag. But even if it's not the "best thing" to sell in a store geared towards children, the rock candy is a huge hit. And just like in the real meth trade, the bottom line wins. “We’ve gone through probably several hundred bags,” says Hall.