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Rehab Revolt

10/03/12 11:09am

Georgia Nimbys Want Rehab Out


Why can't we be friends? Photo via

You'd think most people would applaud drug addicts entering treatment, but residents of a Lawrenceville, GA neighborhood say they're all for it as long as it doesn't happen in their back yard. The residential rehab in question, known as Purple Inc., opened last February and treats young men with drug and alcohol addictions. Nearby homeowners are now taking action after finding out the center applied for a permit to continue operating as a residential facility, claiming it's a threat to their neighborhood and property values. "I felt blindsided in exactly what type of facility it was," says resident Ruthie Cansiz. "I think if any person falls out of this sort of rehab program and causes a problem for one child, one person, one house, that is enough." Linda Chambers, another resident, says that while she doesn't object to the facility itself, she thinks the location is ill-advised: "Across from a subdivision with a bunch of children and across from a high school, that didn't seem like an appropriate location."

The facility houses 25 men and has been operating in Gwinnett County for 10 years without incident, according to Brett Bagley, director of Purple Inc. He recently held an open house and invited the community to attend to learn more, but only one person showed up. "The people who are here are not dangerous people," says Bagley. "These are the guys who are here because they want to get better. They're being drug tested. They're here with clinicians actively participating in changing their lives." The county planning commission is expected to make a recommendation this week on whether the center can continue as a residential facility. It's hardly the first time neighborhoods have objected to rehabs; there have been rumblings against facilities from Malibu to the Hamptons this year, while residents of the New Jersey suburb of Alpine last month tried to tried to halt plans for a proposed residential rehab there.

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By McCarton Ackerman


10/03/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: October 3, 2012


Kenny Rogers says his dad's alcoholism
turned him off booze. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

literary intrigue

10/02/12 5:24pm

Revealed: Mark Twain's Boozy Muse


Mark Twain's inspiration for Tom Sawyer has
been hotly contested. Photo via

Mark Twain may have based Tom Sawyer, the daredevilish protagonist of his most famous novel, on an old drinking buddy, according to a new analysis from Smithsonian. The inspiration behind the character has long been disputed, but writer Robert Graysmith claims the original Sawyer was a "stocky, round-faced…customs inspector, volunteer fireman, special policeman and bona fide local hero" of the same name, who allegedly met Twain (real name Sam Clemens) in a San Francisco steam room in 1863. The two became close chums and would hang out at the Blue Wing [saloon], drinking, swapping stories from the past, and "spinning yarns." Twain, who was a journalist at the time, "could drink more and talk more than any feller I ever seen," Graysmith quotes the real Tom Sawyer as saying of his literary bar mate. "He'd set down and take a drink…and then when somebody'd buy him another drink, he'd keep up all day." According to Graysmith, in the midst of a "momentous bender," Twain once told his new friend: "Tom, I'm going to write a book about a boy and the kind I have in mind was just about the toughest boy in the world…he was just such a boy as you must have been." 

The great American novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was published in 1876, years after the author would have parted ways with his old boozing buddy. When asked later on about the inspiration behind his impish hero, Twain said "[Tom Sawyer] was not the real name…of any person I ever knew, so far as I can remember." Whether that account was truth, denial, or the result of drinking-induced memory loss would take a time machine to prove. But if Sawyer's recollection was true—and not a "yarn"—then he really was the novelist's muse. "[Twain] would listen to these pranks of mine with great interest and he'd occasionally take 'em down in his notebook," said Sawyer according to an 1898 newspaper. "One day he says to me: 'I am going to put you between the covers of a book some of these days, Tom.' 'Go ahead,' I said, 'but don't disgrace my name'."

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By May Wilkerson

addiction treatment

10/02/12 4:04pm

Virtual Rehab: From the Comfort of Your Home?


Could online rehab help you? Photo via

Addicts with busy schedules or a fear of being seen at a traditional rehab have a new option, thanks to Lionrock Recovery. The company offers "shame-free" online treatment and therapy sessions via high quality video conferencing from the privacy of your own home. "Whether you need to stay connected to your life in early recovery because of work or family commitments, or get reconnected after residential care, getting this kind of private and intensive support can make staying sober a lot easier," Lionrock's CEO, Peter Loeb, tells The Fix. The idea came from Loeb and his business partner—two tech guys who have dealt with family members with addictions and wanted to use their skills to help. “This has been a journey of making sure that we’re doing it right,” he says.

Naturally, the program has critics who wonder if getting sober at home is feasible, when you’re still surrounded by the distractions and stresses that may have initially contributed to your addiction. “I don’t try to talk people out of being skeptical, but one of the things that I ask them to do is try it,” says Loeb. He claims that the video technology may even make group work more intimate, as it allows you to look into everyone's eyes—rather than just those of the people sitting across the room from you. Plus, he says, being in your own home could help you feel more at ease. “The clients tell us that it’s easier for them to open up and the clinicians have told us the opposite view of that, that they’ve had to develop some skills around slowing people down because they feel so comfortable.” However, he does recognize that online rehab isn't for everyone: if someone needs a more intensive level of care, Lionrock will refer them to an appropriate treatment facility. "We’re not trying to get rid of in-person therapy," says Loeb. "One size doesn’t fit all in this world.”

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By Chrisanne Grise

Four Loko

10/02/12 2:41pm

Man Sues Four Loko for His Loco Stunt


Who's the victim here? Photo via

Four Loko, that vibrantly colored canned cocktail that simultaneously intoxicates and energizes, is once again under legal fire. The Chicago-based makers of the drink, Phusions Projects, are being sued by an Ohio resident who blames the “dangerous” alcoholic beverage for his accident two years ago. Richard “Tommy” Whaley, 28, had consumed nearly three 23.5-ounce cans of Four Loko when he ran out onto the road, where he was hit by a car. Witnesses say he was launched nearly 10 feet into the air, and his shoe was found on top of a building 100 feet away. At the hospital, his blood-alcohol level was 0.198%, way above the legal limit of 0.08% in Ohio. “The amount of alcohol he consumed should have caused him to lose consciousness,” says the lawsuit. “However, due to Four Loko’s high caffeine amount...he remained awake and in an agitated and irrational state.” Whaley, who has a record of DUI and drunken disorderly conduct, claims that a limp resulting from the accident will prevent him from returning to his former landscaping job. This is not the first time the contentious combo of booze and energy has been blamed for accidents, and Phusions is currently facing a similar suit in Illinois over the death of a 15-year-old boy. While the company cannot officially comment on the pending cases, they did release a statement: “Of course, it is important to remember that just because a lawsuit is filed doesn’t mean the allegations in it have merit.”

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By Chrisanne Grise

Drugs in Prison

10/02/12 1:49pm

How Prison Drug Dealing by Phone Has Changed


Drug dealers can find it easy to continue their
trade. Photo via

Back in the '90s, when the War on Drugs was in high gear, federal prison was drug dealer central. "People were sitting in prison, making drug deals," one prisoner tells The Fix. "Not to say that they aren't now, but back then it was crazy. It was much easier to sell drugs in prison because you're right there where the people that have direct access to the narcotics that you need are—the Colombians, Cubans and Mexicans." Before 1999, federal prisoners had unlimited and unrestricted phone access. Inmates with clout would block off hours of phone use at a time to conduct their transactions. "I would make 60 calls in a day, sometimes using two lines at once," the prisoner says. "It was something for me to do. It was just about everybody inside the jail in some way, shape, form or fashion dealing drugs, directly or indirectly."

What the federal drug warriors didn't figure on when they started locking up dealers in huge numbers, was that they were actually making it easier for them to continue to ply their trade—by incarcerating all the different dealers, of diverse nationalities and locations, together. "The temptation was there," the prisoner says. "You had people everyday hooking up drug deals and most were arranged by phone." Things are a little different now. Due to all the federal cases and investigations around drug empires run from behind bars, the Bureau of Prisons enacted new phone policies in 1999—including allowing each prisoner only 300 minutes per month, as well as other restrictions. Still, "In reality they haven't stopped anything," the prisoner says. "Just look at the news. Dudes are just using cell phones to make drug deals now."

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By Seth Ferranti


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