The War on Drugs has resulted in an amazing amount of locked-up drug dealers, users and addicts. Given these ingredients, it's not surprising that US prisons host miniature versions of the wider drug market. Every facility has its own black economy, through which every drug imaginable is available—only in more limited quantities than on the outside. "You can get whatever you want in here," one current prisoner tells The Fix, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisals from prison authorities. "Marijuana, heroin, whatever. They had oxy-80s on the pound for $160 each. It's way more expensive than on the street, but if you got the money you can buy them." Marijuana is typically sold in ChapStick caps, and goes for $25 a cap. Heroin is usually sold in $50 or $100 papers; one gram of heroin will make twelve $100 pieces. We're talking small amounts, but in prison, just like the outside, drugs are in high demand and are a lucrative market—with prices inflated by scarcity.
"Whenever somebody makes a score, he puts the word out and all the drugs are bought up," the prisoner tells us. The preferred form of currency is books of stamps, which are valued at $6 each. "When the weed, heroin or oxys hit the yard, dudes have their stamps ready," he continues. "It's a first-come, first-serve basis, but you better have your cash in hand if you're looking to cop." Prison dealers always want payment up front. Marijuana, heroin and Oxycontin are the most popular substances overall, and supply generally meets demand. "I got busted for oxys and I can still get them in here," the prisoner reflects. "The sad thing about it all is, they lock you up for drugs and they can't even keep the drugs out of the prison."
Could Charlie Sheen really be harboring some regrets about his rocky past? In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Sheen admits his “winning” mentality might have been skewed by personal turmoil. The actor famously walked away from the popular sitcom Two and a Half Men and a $1.25 million-an-episode salary; his new FX show, Anger Management, premiers June 28. He explains his old behavior thus: “Clearly, a guy gets fired, his relationships are in the toilet, he’s off on some fucking tour, there’s nothing ‘winning’ about any of that. I mean, how does a guy who’s obviously quicksanded, how does he consider any of it a victory? I was in total denial.” But despite this admission, Sheen—who sent a bizarre poem to TMZ this week in response to questions about drug use—continues boozing without apology: “I mean, the shit works. Sorry, but it works. Anyway, I don’t see what’s wrong with a few drinks.” Rolling Stone also speaks with Sheen’s ex-wife Denise Richards in their interview, who says, “[Charlie] and I are like best friends now. Confidants. He tells me everything.” But Sheen stresses that despite their mended relationship, “We sleep in separate rooms. Everybody’s going to want to know that, too.”
It's a grisly piece of evidence that taking drugs really might not make you any smarter: Fort Lauderdale Police say that James Ayers, 32, and Nicole Okrzesik, 23, made the mistake of Google-searching how to commit murder, just minutes before strangling their sleeping friend to death…so they could rob her for drug money. The victim, 19 year-old Juliana Mensch, had got high with the Florida couple on an unspecified drug and passed out on the floor of their home. Okrzesik apparently then embarked on an internet search of terms including: "chemicals to passout a person," “ways to kill people in their sleep,” “how to suffocate someone” and “how to poison someone.” Even more astonishingly, police say that Okrzesik created a forum on GoLivewire.com, entitled “could you kill someone in their sleep and no one would think it was murder?” Hours after the couple allegedly committed the crime, they posted a photo of themselves online, partying the night away at a South Beach bar. The next day, they debated what to do with Mensch’s body via Facebook. Ayers has now been charged with first-degree murder and is set to appear in court on June 25, while Okrzesik faces a grand jury tomorrow.
We may have heard the last of Teen Mom's Amber Portwood for a while. The 22-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison after she asked the judge to impose her original sentence, stemming from a failed drug test last December while on probation for possession of drugs. Portwood could have gone to a long-term drug rehab instead, but told the judge she hated the program and had been using throughout it. Many experts are weighing in on her self-imposed sentence and say that—like in the case of Cameron Douglas—jail will ultimately do more harm than good. "Drugs, to begin with, will keep her a dependent victim. And prison, to end with, will scar her for life," says therapist Dr. Gilda Carle. The prison term also raises questions over the care of Portwood's three-year-old daughter. And while Portwood says she needs to be in jail in order to truly get clean, some suspect ulterior motives. “It is very sad that having a cute little girl to love isn’t enough to motivate Amber to get clean in a rehab facility, and that she asked to be put in prison instead," says Dr. Carole Lieberman, psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets. "It almost seems as if she is doing this to avoid the responsibilities of motherhood.”
In mainstream media, drinking is often seen as a precursor to sexual fluidity—with drunkenness frequently leading to sexual "exploration" on the big and small screen. But new research offers a reverse angle—suggesting that people whose sexuality is more fluid to begin with are more likely to abuse substances. Amelia Talley, assistant professor of psychological sciences at University of Missouri, conducted a study on 2,000 college students; she divided them in to groups based on sexual identity, and then monitored their drinking behavior over four years. She found that students with less rigid sexual identities (as opposed to their straight or gay peers) were more prone to using alcohol heavily, and as a coping mechanism. “Bisexuals and students whose sexual orientation was in flux reported the heaviest drinking and most negative consequences from alcohol use, such as uncontrolled drinking and withdrawal symptoms,” says Talley. “Those groups reported drinking to relieve anxiety and depression at higher rates than strictly heterosexual or homosexual individuals." She offers several explanations for the pattern, saying "people who aren’t either completely heterosexual or homosexual may feel stigmatized by both groups.” She also suggests that fear and anxiety related to developing a sexual identity could contribute to substance abuse, "just as people in any difficult situation in life may turn to alcohol to alleviate stress."
Jenna, a 26-year-old bisexual New Yorker who is in recovery, tells The Fix, "I never felt like I fit in among gay people, or among straight people. I always felt like an outsider. When I drank, I was more confident in my body and my sexuality, and in who I am." Talley hopes the research will be used to help young people seek healthier coping mechanisms, saying "organizations could put our findings to use by providing a support network to help young people avoid using alcohol to cope with stress as they define their sexual identity".
Treatment-industry professionals and luminaries including A&E Intervention-ist Donna Chavous and Gateway Rehabilitation Center founder (and ordained rabbi) Abraham Twerski, MD gathered in New York City yesterday for Caron’s 7th Annual Greater New York Community Service Awards Breakfast. Caron New York Regional Vice President Todd Whitmer welcomed the assembled guests—noting that the foundation's “acquisition slash merger” of The Hanley Center rehab in Palm Beach County “is coming together quite well,” and that their new Ocean Drive treatment facility, also in Florida, is getting up and running—before turning it over to Awards Committee Chairman Neil Lasher, an A&R man for Sony/ATV Music. Lasher presented seven Caron “Unsung Hero” Awards, to Chavous and six others. Next up, some major awards were presented by Vice President of Caron New York Clinical Regional Services Harris Stratyner, PhD, CASAC. Honorees—in categories including the Addiction Professional Award, Research Award, Medical Professional Award and more—included the Legal Professional/Uniformed Public Service Award-winner Sgt. Daniel Sweeney, LMSW, CASAC, of the New York Police Department’s Counseling Services Unit. Accepting his award with trademark blunt honesty, Sweeney said, “The truth is, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gotten arrested. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gotten sober.” The final award of the morning went to the elderly Dr. Twerski, who earned Caron’s Lifetime Achievement Award—and a standing ovation.