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Overdose Awareness Day

8/31/12 10:27am

Today Honors Those Who Died by OD

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A day for remembrance and reflection
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Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day to commemorate those who have lost their lives to OD. Organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance will be holding events to raise awareness and promote policies that are compassionate towards those at risk—like expanding the availability and knowledge of naloxone, and adopting 911 "Good Samaritan" laws. Overdose now claims more lives in the US than car crashes, drowning and firearm deaths, and the DPA stresses the need to address this. “Naloxone is a regular medicine like any other medicine, it's legal, non-narcotic, and you can't abuse it,” Meghan Ralston of the DPA tells The Fix. “And it does only one thing: reverse opiate overdose.” According to Ralston, physicians simply aren't aware or familiar with the drug and thus don't prescribe it to patients. The high demand for nalaxone combined with its scarcity also drives up its price, making the drug needlessly expensive to get a hold of. Good Samaritan laws allow people to call 911 to report ODs without fear of being arrested for minor drug violations. “It can be challenging for law enforcement officials to understand the depth and complexity of addiction and overdose in their home state,” Ralston tells us, saying that officers generally opt to make low-level drug arrests because they're unaware of widespread public support for policy changes towards handling opiate drug overdoses. Those who can't make it to the planned candlelight vigils, rallies and fundraisers around the country can show their support on Twitter by using the hashtag #OD12.

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By Bryan Le

Headlines

8/31/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 31, 2012

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Gina Rinehart says your bad habits make
you poor. Photo via

By Bryan Le

whiskey hangover

8/30/12 5:10pm

Tenacious Whiskey Mold Cloaks Kentucky

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No structure is immune to the mold. Photo via

Whiskey is the "liquid pride" of Kentucky, but distilleries across the state have given residents a hangover in the form of a sooty black fungus that spreads on the surface of houses and cars, the New York Times reports. For a long time, the mysterious, yeasty-smelling residue, which thrives in humidity and is difficult to remove, was thought to be pollution. It turns out it's Baudoinia—a newly-discovered fungus that germinates on ethanol, the colorless alcohol that evaporates during whiskey fermentation. The mold has found prime breeding ground in parts of the whiskey-makin' state, especially in areas surrounding aging warehouses—of which there are many—leaving many feeling miffed. “It’s literally taken the clear coat of paint off my car," says Frankfurt resident Kayleigh Count, who, like many Kentuckians, was raised by the bourbon industry. “All my family is retired from the distillery, so it’s not like I can be mad at the distillery," she says. "I just want them to use a modern approach, and keep the air clean."

She isn't the only one who's fed up with the ubiquitous fungus. Recently, many home and business-owners have filed class-action lawsuits in federal courts against five major distilleries, on charges of property damage and negligence. Louisville lawyer William F. McMurry, who is involved in the suit, says the distillers should simply “stop off-gasing ethanol,” adding: “This is not going to affect their bottom line and the flavor of whiskey.” But the companies deny responsibility for the mold, claiming it is "naturally occurring," rather than a result of fermentation. "The companies involved do not believe that they have caused any harm to the plaintiffs or their property," read a joint statement. Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, at this point, even the distilleries' best efforts may be no match for the tenacious mold. “We call them extremophiles, that grow in the extremes of life in our planet," says Dr. Scott, who discovered the whiskey fungus in 2011. "It’s not clear to me, if you were to remove the distillery or the aging warehouses entirely, if you could even get rid of it.”

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By May Wilkerson

Crazy drunk

8/30/12 4:09pm

Does "Tan Mom" Have More Than One Addiction?

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Roasts are not for the thin-skinned.
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No one said being roasted doesn't come with a price. “Tanning Mom” Patricia Krentcil has once again ignited media attention—this time for getting so drunk at a comedy roast held in her honor that she was booted off the stage. The New Jersey mother of five first aroused a surge of criticism after she was accused of taking her five-year-old daughter to a tanning booth back in May. Last night, she seemed so sloshed on arrival at drag show/roast in Hell's Kitchen, New York, that she was unable to stand. “She showed up for the red carpet and fell over,” says one witness. “She then got up and tried to attack the drag queen.” On stage she didn't fare much better, incoherently cursing the audience and evidently unaware of her surroundings. “We asked her what she wanted to drink and she slurred 'I didn't put my kid in a tanning bed!'” says Bianca del Rio, one of the event's hosts. As if the crowd of witnesses weren't enough, someone thoughtfully posted a video of the episode on YouTube. After the first joke at her expense was fired off, Krentcil tried to retaliate—but event staff had planned ahead for a Tan Mom Meltdown: “We came up with a code word earlier. It was 'Christmas,'” says del Rio. “After about five minutes, we were just screaming 'Christmas,' and security came and took her out.” 

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By Bryan Le

twitter chat

8/30/12 3:01pm

Join Our Twitter Chat on Media, Celebs and Addiction

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Join the debate! Photo via

Does life in the spotlight make people more prone to addiction, or does addiction naturally accompany a drive for attention? Countless celebrities battle addiction under the paparazzi bulbs. Some—like Elton John, Demi Lovato and Samuel L. Jackson—speak about their recovery to the media. Others—like Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger and Whitney Houston—have become tragic public reminders of the toll the disease can take. But what effect does the media's portrayal of addiction have on the rest of us?

In our Twitter chat on September 12, from 3-4 pm EST—co-hosted by our friends at Phoenix House—we’ll discuss all this and more. Taking part is easy: just log on to Twitter on the day and search for our new chat-specific hashtag—#popchat. Tweet your answers to the questions posed by @_TheFix and @PhoenixHouse—if you don't follow them yet, do it now!—and make sure to include #popchat in every tweet you send.

Our guests will include psychiatrist and author Dr. John Sharp (click on any of these names to follow them on Twitter), former White House drug policy advisor Kevin SabetFox entertainment reporter Courtney Friel and sober coach Patty Powers of Relapse—as well as Phoenix House CEO Howard Meitiner and Fix contributors like Nic Sheff, Amy DresnerJeff Deeney and Jennifer Matesa. They'll be joined by many other experts, journalists and representatives of organizations like the Partnership at DrugFree.org and VisionsTeen. Your ever-faithful Fix staff—including Mike Guy, Anna David, Will Godfrey, Hunter Slaton, May Wilkerson and Joe Schrank—will be chipping in too. See you there! 

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By The Fix staff

moral decay

8/30/12 2:02pm

Drug Addict Dentist Reused Needles on Patients

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Dr. Stein admits to stealing drugs from his
patients to fuel his habit. Photo via

A Colorado dentist who admitted to reusing needles on his patients and prompted more than 8,000 people to be tested for HIV said his actions stemmed in part from a drug addiction. Dr. Stephen Stein had his dental practice save unused portions of medication—including Vicodin and Vicoprofen—and combine the medications into one syringe to be used on other patients, resulting in the reuse of syringes and needles. State health officials say three people may have been infected with HIV as a result. Stein signed a Stipulation and Final Agency Order in which he admitted to a long battle with drug dependency and voluntarily relinquished his license to practice dentistry in the state. Stein wrote patient prescriptions for Vicodin and Vicoprofen and told them to bring the medication to their appointments, but the drugs were then diverted for his own personal use. An anonymous complaint was sent to the Board of Dental Examiners in June 2011 that accused Stein of misusing controlled substances and stating that he was "disabled" by his addiction. Stein admitted to the board that he sought treatment for his chemical dependency in the summer of 1998. By voluntarily relinquishing his license, he will be able to apply for a new license to practice in two years.

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