A Malaysian mosque outside Kuala Lumpur is dispensing methadone to the scores of heroin addicts who come to its doors. The Ah-Rahman—the first mosque in the world with a methadone program operating out of it—currently helps 50 people aged 18-60 who want to kick their heroin addictions. Patients take methadone under the watchful eye of pharmacists for the first two months and must continually pass urine tests before being allowed to take three doses home with them. The conservative Muslim country is generally severe on drugs, which are forbidden by both Muslim scholars and Malaysian law; heroin possession is punishable by life in prison, while selling it earns you a death sentence. But the doctors at the University of Malaya who put together this program have been able to get religious authorities on board. They plan to expand it to two more mosques in the coming months. "It makes me no longer take heroin on the street," says one man in the program. "It makes me want to work." Before the introduction of methadone, heroin addicts were sent to government rehab centers for two years, where they would go “cold turkey”—an approach doctors said led to a high relapse rate. Malaysia has an estimated 170,000 intravenous drug users, with heroin the most commonly used drug. The doctors at Ah-Rahman hope to reduce the stigma surrounding drug users in order to help them more easily.
Drugs are naturally enough being considered as one possible cause of pilot Clayton Osbon's erratic behavior on JetBlue flight 191 earlier this week. The 49-year-old captain frightened passengers when he began acting erratically, ranting about Iran and 9/11, and flipping switches in the cockpit on a routine flight from New York's JFK Airport to Las Vegas. He is now being tested for drug use, as well as undergoing tests for mental illness, infection, and even a brain tumor. "The captain of the plane just went berserk," passenger Wayne Holmes tells ABC. "He came out of the other end of the plane—came running back to the cockpit and he was shouting out these numbers—500 something. He started banging on the cockpit door." Obson then frantically told a flight attendant, "You'd better start praying right now," and further ranted about Al Qaeda, Jesus, a bomb, even claiming that the plane would crash. "Pilots often have weird shift work," says Una McCann, director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution. "Drugs prescribed over the counter, and, in particular sleep deprivation, can turn someone over the edge." Authorities have been saying that Obson suffered a panic attack, but not everyone believes it. "Rage is not a typical feature of uncomplicated panic," says McCann, "So there is clearly something additional that took place here."
The Fix marks the first anniversary of its launch today with a sense of gratitude and slight disbelief—has a whole year really gone by? Well, judging by all that's happened since we debuted last March with a juicy investigation of Scientology's Narconon rehabs, it really has. Not only have we produced a steady stream of features (here are your favorites from 2011), addiction news and Sober Living articles—we've also garnered widespread media coverage.
And that's far from everything. To keep in close touch with what else is going on, make sure you follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our weekly newsletter too. But although the specifics of what we offer on the site have evolved, our mission hasn't: to be the best source of addiction and recovery news, information and service out there for our readers.
We'd like to say a huge thank you to all of you, whether you've been with us from the start or just found out about us recently. Without you, we simply wouldn't be here one year on. We've got lots of plans for our second year—with your help, we'll make The Fix the best it's ever been!
From all the staff at The Fix
Tonight and tomorrow in New York, movie buffs have a chance to catch an exciting new film, Oslo, August 31st, about one day in the life of a 34-year-old recovering Norwegian drug addict (“Anders,” played by Anders Danielsen Lie) who is fast coming up on the end of a stint in rehab—and the uncertainty that lies beyond. The film, the second from director Joachim Trier, is being shown as part of the 41st annual New Directors/New Films festival in NYC; it previously garnered accolades at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. In glowing tones, a New York Times movie critic described Oslo, August 31st as “a portrait of a former addict and melancholic struggling against the tide—of his depression, his past and his blinkered, anguished sense of a viable future—a fight Anders appears resigned to cede.” New Yorkers can catch the film tonight at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 8:30 pm, and tomorrow at 6 pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Check out the trailer:
Not all drunk dials are regretted in the morning. A spirited and intoxicated voicemail from country star Kenny Chesney to Lionel Richie ended up landing Chesney a spot on Richie’s new album Tuskegee—a country compilation featuring duets of some of his biggest hits over the last five decades. Chesney knew he wanted to sing “My Love” on the album, so he dialed Richie after drinking a couple of bottles of wine and left him an impromptu audition on his voicemail. “I just decided that I was going to call Lionel and tell him I wanted to sing on his record,” says Chesney. “It was a pretty spirited voicemail, I can tell you that, because I actually sang the verse and like half of the song of ‘My Love’ onto his voicemail.” Chesney called again the next morning to apologize, but apparently it wasn't necessary; Richie granted him the chance to sing the song on the record. The original version of “My Love,” which featured the vocals of Kenny Rogers, cracked the top five on the pop charts in 1983.