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drugs in prison

9/06/12 1:11pm

Prison Purgatory: The "Dry Cell"

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Waiting to expel. Photo via

When prisoners get busted for smuggling contraband items like illegal drugs in to prison through the visiting room, correctional officials will often put the offenders in a "dry cell". If a prisoner is suspected of ingesting a balloon filled with drugs, they will be held in a dry cell while officials attempt to retrieve the drugs—or wait for them to be "expelled"—before letting the prisoner enter the institution. "At FCI Fairton in New Jersey I was pulling little licks," one prisoner tells The Fix. "Just getting some marijuana in through the dance floor. Swallowing balloons my girl would bring. Nothing major. Just trying to get my smoke on and make a little commissary. But someone dropped a note on me and they threw me in the dry cell." A dry cell generally has no toilet or running water. Before entering, a prisoner is stripped down to his underwear and put in the cell with no mattress and only a sheet to spread on the metal bed frame—in order to prevent them from discarding or hiding the drugs. A guard is posted outside the cell and a video camera is set up to monitor the prisoner 24/7. Prisoners can remain in these conditions for 3 to 5 days or until they defecate numerous times and the balloons are either discovered or the suspected offender is cleared of wrongdoing.

"Luckily when they threw me in the dry cell I wasn't dirty. My girl brought some balloons but she left them in the car. Told me something didn't feel right. I was mad at the time but glad later when they took me out of the visiting room," the prisoner says. "Still I was stripped down to my underwear, videotaped and in the dry cell, shitting like a motherfucker, for three days so I could get out. When I had to shit they would bring a little bedpan with a small clear garbage liner in it. I had to squat down in front of the Lieutenant, the C/O and the video camera and shit. Than tie off the bag and hand it to them threw the metal slot in the door so they could examine it to make sure there were no balloons in it."

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By Seth Ferranti

pain killers

9/06/12 12:13pm

Slipknot Bassist's Doc Charged With Rx Drug Deaths

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Paul Gray struggled with addiction long
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The Iowa doctor who may have contributed to the death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray and seven others by overprescribing painkillers has pleaded not guilty to eight charges of involuntary manslaughter. Daniel Baldi, a now-suspended 50-year-old pain specialist, is facing 16 years in prison if convicted. He has previously faced four medical malpractice claims and three wrongful death suits. According to court documents, Baldi "did unintentionally cause the death of Paul Gray by the commission of an act likely to cause death or serious injury, to-wit, continually wrote high-dose prescription narcotics to a known drug addict from 12/27/2005 until his death.” The 38-year-old masked musician was found dead of an overdose in a hotel room in 2010. Gray helped found Slipknot in 1995 and was involved in taking the band into international renown with their strange masks and aggressive sound all the way until his death. Slipknot has yet to comment on the charges against the pain doctor.

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By Bryan Le

Celebrity Sobriety

9/06/12 10:52am

Bradley Cooper Comes Out of the Sober Closet

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The sexiest man alive is sober. Photo via

Some stars release statements about how they're seeking recovery before they've even entered rehab but The Hangover star Bradley Cooper decided to wait until he had accumulated some sober time—eight years to be exact. While promoting his latest movie, the Sexiest Man Alive told the Hollywood Reporter, "I don't drink or do drugs at all anymore. Being sober helps a great deal." He even opened up about the more emotional aspects of addiction: "I was so concerned [with] what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day," he confessed. "I always felt like an outsider. I realized I wasn't going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me." Sober-eyed viewers may have had their suspicions that Cooper had his feet in the addiction and recovery world when he produced and starred in 2011's Limitless, a drama about a writer who becomes addicted to a top-secret drug that gives him superhuman abilities.

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By Anna David

headlines

9/06/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: September 6, 2012

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Jamie Lee Curtis says sobriety is her greatest
accomplishment. Photo via

By The Fix staff

breaking dad

9/05/12 5:05pm

Nicki Minaj Issues a Warning to Drug Addict Dads

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Nicki Minaj has a lot to say to "crazy" dads.
Photo via

Nicki Minaj's drive for fame may have risen from an early desire to protect her mother from her drug-addicted father. "I would go in my room and and kneel down at the foot of my bed and pray that God would make me rich so that I could take care of my mother," recalls the rapper in the newest issue of Rolling Stone. She has spoken before about her childhood with an addicted father, including the time that he tried to burn down their family home while her mom was inside. "We were afraid for my mother's life because whenever he would have a real bad outburst he would threaten to kill her," she told Nightline this past Spring. And although her father Omar has said he is "torn up" over his daughter's comments, Minaj hopes her openness will serve as a warning to other dads whose addictions and "crazy" behavior could impact their kids. "Maybe one day your daughter will be famous and talk to every magazine about it, so think about that, dads out there who want to be crazy," she warns.

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By May Wilkerson

war times

9/05/12 4:13pm

Pakistan Violence Fuels Pot Boom

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Marijuana prices are at an all-time high.
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Marijuana prices are skyrocketing to an all-time high in Pakistan due to an army offensive and militia infighting, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping users from paying double or triple what they previously spent. In fact, anxiety caused by the Taliban-linked violence is actually increasing the demand for pot in the country. “Everyone is tense, everyone is depressed and hash is the easiest available remedy. People use it to forget their worries,” says Kamal Khan (name changed on request), a 51-year-old English teacher. “Everybody is a hashish addict—police, doctors, officers—a lot of people come here.” Fighting is nothing new in parts of the country where the saying goes: “Even if the stove at home is cold, the barrel of a gun must be kept warm.” But since January, more than half a million Pakistanis have fled while the army and militants battle it out over some of the most fertile land for marijuana and opium. Before, a kilo of hashish cost the equivalent of about $200, but now it sells for anywhere between $530 and $690. “Bomb blasts, fighting, inflation, our society is full of worries and it is increasing demand,” says shopkeeper Arshad Afridi. Much of the money goes to local warlord Mangal Bagh, factions of the Taliban and rival group Ansar al Islam. Farmers say hash is worth much more than any normal crops, and merchants who stockpiled the drug in goat skins during previous years are cashing in on the high prices. Says Zaman Afridi, another shopkeeper: “We’ve been doing this business for decades because we have no other source of income.”

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