Ads promoting Suncoast Rehabilitation Center of Spring Hill, Florida, have proliferated all over Facebook recently, proudly promoting the rehab's astounding 76% success rate as the "Highest of any Rehab Program" in the country. That's quite a claim when it comes to a malady that's plagued mankind since the dawn of time. So in an attempt to find out exactly how they measured "success," we decided to give Suncoast a call. Our first phone call was answered by a perky Admissions Counselor named Rene.
"What's your definition of success?" we asked.
"Success means that our patients are alcohol and drug-free."
How do you make sure they are really drug-free?
"They call them up and ask them."
Who conducts this research?
"We do!" she chirpily replied.
In other words, Suncoast Rehab calculates its success rate solely based on the self-evaluation of its former clients. But mountains of research has proved that such surveys are notoriously inaccurate. When ex-clients are doing well, they are much more likely to take the rehab's calls. Clients who are doing badly tend to avoid them, skewing the poll results. Suncoast, which is licensed by the state of Florida, pays a fee to Narconon—a controversial Scientology-supported addiction rehab organization—to use its eight-book program. As we recently reported, Narconon's program basically advises addicts and alcoholics to sweat out their demons in sweltering eight-hour sauna sessions, while feeding them near-toxic amounts of minerals and vitamins. Suncoast claims it has no affiliation with the Church. Instead, says Admissions Director Eric Mitchell, Suncoast's counselors work hard to "get to the source—the real problem that lead our clients to drug use in the first place." But while Mitchell repeatedly talked up Suncoast's success rate, he was a little hazy about the details. When we asked him who checked in with former clients he replied that "the research is done by an outside agency," which he couldn't name, contradicting claims by Rene. Nor could he enlighten us as to how this research was conducted.
In the large scheme of things, Suncoast's sins are not such a big deal. The rehab serves only 25 clients at a time, a tiny fraction of the people who seek treatment at huge institutions like Betty Ford and Hazelden. In fact, if not for its ballsy ad campaign, we might have never have noticed it at all. But we did. Of course, Suncoast isn't the first rehab to fudge its numbers. Surely it won't be the last. In their bid to draw paying customers, many facilities across the nation make outlandish claims about their success rates, which often tend to be wildly exaggerated. Maybe that's just the nature of advertising. It's one thing to engage in hyperbole when you're pitching condoms or beer. But when you're demanding $20,000 a month or more from people trying to save their lives, you're bound to a higher standard of accuracy.
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- One Dead, One Charged in Lake Zurich Heroin Overdose [Daily Herald]
- Henderson City Attorney Charged with DUI Resigns [Las Vegas Sun]
- Fired Jacksonville Police Officer Arrested for DUI After Two Accidents [Florida Times Union]
- Samantha Ronson in Second DUI Charge this Month [Reuters]
For the third consecutive year, most Americans support the legalization of marijuana, according to the annual Angus Reid Public Opinion poll. 55% of the 1003 American adults surveyed online agree cannabis should be legalized. But other drugs are viewed far less favorably. Just 10% of Americans think ecstasy should be legalized, with 9% for powdered cocaine, 8% for heroin and a paltry 7% for both crystal meth and crack cocaine. “Cannabis is definitely not seen as a substance that is as harmful as other illegal drugs, as evidenced in the minuscule level of support for the legalization of cocaine or heroin,” the report concludes. The mood of national opinion is mirrored by myriad celebrities. Proposition 19—California’s initiative to legalize marijuana across the board for those 21 years of age and older—was backed by rock singer Melissa Etheridge and actors Danny Glover and Hal Sparks, among many others, before ultimately being voted down in November 2010. Ironically, the most recent star to voice his support is actor Eric Roberts, who was featured in Season 4 of Celebrity Rehab for a longtime cannabis addiction. Even so, he posted a video of himself on YouTube to make his point: "Pot remains illegal because no one has figured out how to make it profitable for the government yet," he said. "It's political, not protective.” We doubt that Janice Dickinson would agree.
Two female participants in the rioting and looting that has engulfed London since Saturday night spoke off-camera to a BBC reporter earlier today [video below]. Swigging at 9:30 am from a bottle of "free" rose wine that they had looted from a local store in Croydon, in the far South of the city, they told the journalist that the mayhem had been "good fun"—and that they had been drinking all night. The girls said that "hopefully" the carnage would continue, but at press time London was eerily quiet after a massive show of force from 16,000 cops on the streets. However, trouble flared in other English cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. Meanwhile recovery network In The Rooms announced that it will hold an online video 12-step meeting tomorrow (August 10) at 8 pm local time for Brits who feel unsafe leaving their homes to attend meetings.
Ice-T has been everywhere on the tube—from his role as a detective on Law and Order to the reality show featuring his daily life with wife Coco. But now Ice is singing a very serious tune with his new VH1 documentary on hip-hop and the development of crack cocaine in poor urban communities. Crack, the smokable and highly-addictive form of coke, swept through impoverished areas of cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami in the early '80s with devastating effects—especially for black and Latino Americans—leading to astronomical rates of incarceration. The 53-year-old rapper is the executive producer of Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation, which will also feature rappers Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill's B-Real and Wu-Tang Clan members RZA and Raekwon. The two-hour special will air for the first time September 18 at 10 pm ET, VH1 announced today.
Wasilla, Alaska, is going to get really heated when the August issue of Playboy comes out this week. The magazine features a no-holds-barred photo shoot with Mercede Johnston, whose brother Levi Johnston fathered Bristol Palin's child Tripp. In a blistering interview accompanying the shoot, Mercede alleges that Sarah Palin's son Track was a drug addict. “He did Oxycontin but mostly cocaine," says the 19-year-old, who briefly dated him. She goes on to allege that the former Alaska Governor pushed her troubled son to join the military so he wouldn't ruin her political prospects: "He didn’t choose to go into the army; he went there because his mom made him, to get him out of the way.” Track enlisted in late 2007, well before John McCain chose Palin as his running-mate for the 2008 presidential election.
Johnston also claims that teen-mom Bristol Palin, now an "ambassador" for sexual abstinence, has indulged in plenty of vices, including “stealing her parents' credit cards to order clothes," "chasing after men and partying” and sending nude pictures of herself to her admirers. Mercede, who strips for Playboy's August 12 issue, apparently decided to spare her fans the trouble. (Her brother Levi stripped for Playgirl last year.) The Playboy story goes on to recount much sketchier allegations against Sarah Palin, who is still debating a presidential run. The author cites an anonymous source who "makes the incredible claim to have snorted coke with [Sarah] at the Mug Shot [a local bar] and points to the very spot on the bar where said lines were cut up.” While it's kind of difficult to imagine Sarah Palin snorting coke off a bar, the allegations about Track do have some precedent. The National Enquirer made similar claims about his addiction to Oxycontin and cocaine use in 2008. Mercede and Levi's mother Sherry Johnston is currently serving a three-year sentence under house arrest, after being convicted of dealing Oxycontin in 2009.
The drug-use allegations against Track Palin come at what some might consider an inopportune moment: His bride of three months, Britta Hanson, gave birth to a daughter last weekend, according to author Joe McGinniss, whose much-anticipated tell-all about Palin, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, will published by Crown in September. In his blog about Palin, McGinniss reports that the Tea Party darling has made no comment on the arrival of the newborn, named Kyla Grace Palin, because war vet Track and Britta, a nursing student, have refused to sell photos of the baby to the media. "I'd like to think that these young parents have refused to let [Palin] prostitute their daughter. Given how Sarah pimped Trigg and Bristol is pimping Tripp, I can only wish them luck swimming upstream," McGinniss writes.