In her first novel post-Harry Potter, author J.K. Rowling moves from wizards and Hogwarts to drug addiction. The New Yorker has provided the first mini-review of The Casual Vacancy, describing it as "a story of class warfare set amid semi-rural poverty, heroin addiction, and teen-age perplexity and sexuality." The tale is set in the comfortable middle-class town of "Pagford," England, which has a drug-treatment clinic that serves both the town and a neighboring area, The Fields—a neighborhood of public housing and poverty on the edge of a larger town nearby. Right-wing residents of the community seek to rid themselves of the obligation to help the struggling Fields. One of the central characters, the prostitute and drug addict Terri Weedon, is mother to a three-year-old child. The novel draws from Rowling's personal experiences of being surrounded by poverty; she says she now feels free to write "whatever the hell I like." "I am the freest author in the world," she says. "My bills are paid—we all know I can pay my bills—I was under contract to no one, and the feeling of having all of these characters in my head and knowing that no one else knew a damned thing about them was amazing… Pagford was mine, just mine, for five years. I wrote this novel as exactly what I wanted to write."
Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong is seeking treatment for substance abuse after an outburst at the iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas. During the band's Friday night performance, the singer began shouting on stage after the band was told it was time to finish their set. “I'm not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers! You've got to be fucking joking...I got one minute left,” he yelled. “Let me show you what one...minute means.” The band then went into a guitar-smashing rage before leaving the stage. Then yesterday, the band announced on their Facebook page that Armstrong is headed for rehab. “Billie Joe is seeking treatment for substance abuse,” the statement reads. “We would like everyone to know that our set was not cut short by Clear Channel and to apologize to those we offended at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas. We regretfully must postpone some of our upcoming promotional appearances.” About three weeks ago, Armstrong was hospitalized in Italy for severe dehydration, forcing the band to cancel their concert. But Armstrong recovered in time to perform at the MTV Music Video Awards on September 6. He was previously arrested for drinking and driving back in 2003. No details have been released about his addiction or how long he's planning to be in treatment. The band releases a new album tomorrow, but plans to postpone all public appearances until Armstrong returns.
- Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test [New York Times]
- Opponents of Legalizing Marijuana Focus on Risk to Teens [Reuters]
- Czech Republic Alcohol Ban: Homemade Booze Gains Popularity [Huffington Post]
- Program Creates Shared Homes for LA's Homeless, Addicts [LA Times]
- Recovering Addict Helps Those Who Struggle [Dallas Morning News]
- Police: Woman Was Injecting Heroin While Driving [WHIOTV]
- Lindsay Lohan to Sue Cook Who Claims She Was Drunk Driving [New York Daily News]
In the Internet age, life remains easy for teens who want to get their drink on without waiting to turn 21. They can just go online, order it and get it delivered right to their doorstep. It's so easy, even a 13-year-old can do it, as shown on ABC's 20/20: just barely a teenager, Xander hit eBay to score some liquor. One seller refused to deal with him when he couldn't produce any ID—but two other vendors hawked their high-proof goods with no qualms. "All I had to do was type in 'vodka' on the search bar, click one button and it can send it to my house," Xander says. Five bottles were delivered to his doorstep, no questions asked. Ebay says it's taken action against the irresponsible vendors: "Sellers are required to take all appropriate steps to ensure that the buyer is of lawful age," the company states. "We prohibit the general sale of alcohol and we have zero tolerance for anyone who violates our policies. When violations occur, we take appropriate action as we have done in this case." A few months ago, eight underage volunteers found they could buy booze online with a 45% success rate in a study conducted by the University of North Carolina—it seems little has changed since then.
Scientists still disagree over whether you can officially become addicted to eating, but several studies indicate that certain foods can consume you by messing with your brain's pleasure and self-control centers, similarly to drugs. Researchers at Princeton and the University of Florida watched sugar-addicted rats get the shakes and chattering teeth when they couldn't get a fix of the sweet stuff—and when they were allowed a hit two weeks later, they binged 23% more than before. And the Oregon Research Institute found that young ice cream-abusers need larger and larger doses over time in order to satisfy the reward centers of their brains. In case you're wondering whether you have a food problem too, you can take this quick quiz, published in the New York Times and produced by Yale researchers who have devised a Food Addiction Scale:
Do the following statements apply to you: Never; Once a month; Two to four times a month; Two or three times a week, or Four or more times a week?
- I find myself consuming certain foods even though I am no longer hungry.
- I feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
- I have had physical withdrawal symptoms like agitation and anxiety when I cut down on certain foods (not including caffeinated drinks).
- My behavior with respect to food and eating causes me significant distress. Issues related to food and eating decrease my ability to function effectively (interfering with work, school, family, recreation or health).
Do these statements apply to you?
- I keep consuming the same types or amounts of food despite significant emotional and/or physical problems related to my eating.
- Eating the same amount of food does not reduce negative emotions or increase pleasurable feelings the way it used to.
If you've taken the quiz and didn't like your answers, ways to fight back include a regimen of meditation and exercise, and seeking healthier and more natural alternatives to bad food habits—try soothing your ice cream itch with fruit smoothies for example. “We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges,” says Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?”
Addiction will be highlighted on tonight's episode of 20-20, which focuses on Emmy award-winning actress, recovery advocate and Fix contributor Kristen Johnston. "Initially, they approached me to do a brief segment at the end of the show, which was at that time called 'Wasted,'" Johnston tells The Fix. "However, after the producer and Elizabeth Vargas read [her addiction memoir] Guts, they decided it should be a much more prominent part of the show. Because of this, I asked them to kindly consider changing the title because 'Wasted' isn't really appropriate. So they changed it to 'Intoxication Nation,' which I thought much better. It's really a show about the state of addiction and recovery in America today." Johnston, whose interview is being described as "revealing and often hilarious," confesses during the special, "I thought [drinking] was cool… you know, I could outdrink the basketball team." The show will also feature our columnist Nic Sheff—producers reached out to him after reading his piece on working at a high-end rehab in The Fix. "The producers really tried to get all angles of the issue," says Johnston. Tune into 20/20: Intoxication Nation tonight at 7 pm PST/10 pm EST.