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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin


3/20/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: March 20, 2012


Thirstier? Thinkstock

By May Wilkerson

Star Treatment

3/19/12 5:05pm

Cocaine Let-Off for Brooke Mueller


Mueller will return to CA to reclaim her kids
from ex-husband, Sheen. Photo via

While it’s been a tough year for Brooke Mueller, the troubled ex-wife of hard-partying actor Charlie Sheen just caught a big break in her much-publicized cocaine case. After completing three months of aggressive outpatient treatment, the judge came down easy on 34-year-old Mueller when she struck a plea deal earlier today at the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colorado. The judge will dismiss the felony cocaine possession with intent to distribute charges and the misdemeanor assault, leaving the actress to plead guilty only to cocaine possession—a considerably lesser charge. And if Mueller complies with the terms of her 12-month probation, even that charge will be expunged altogether. Initially, she could have faced up to 10 years in prison; now all she has to do is continue her substance abuse treatment and maintain her “Step 2” program in Los Angeles, serving no jail time and paying no fines other than court costs. Sweet deal. As she was leaving the courthouse, Mueller told reporters that she's glad to be returning home to California to be with her kids. Given that they’ve been under the care of Charlie Sheen, we imagine they're glad, too.

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By Sam Lansky

Synthetic drugs

3/19/12 4:41pm

Synthetic "Pot" Takes More Teens to Hospital


Synthetic drugs are a very broad church.
Photo via

More kids are being hospitalized for "synthetic marijuana" use than ever before, shows a new study. Sold as "K2," "Spice," and "Blaze" the mixtures of different chemicals and plants are meant to give a similar high to cannabis. A study published in the March 19 issue of Pediatrics reports 4,500 calls to poison control centers between 2010 to 2011 regarding “problems” with synthetic pot, and reports a modest increase in ER visits after teens have taken it. Teenagers in the study reported symptoms such as agitation, aggression, excessive sweating, restlessness and an inability to speak. One boy was even hallucinating and experiencing a “frozen face,” with slowed speech. "When we suspected the use of synthetic marijuana in these patients, we soon realized that there is little information about this drug in the medical literature," says study author Dr. Joanna Cohen, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. "Because it is a relatively new drug, we should be aware of the symptoms and make a concerted effort to share our experiences in treating patients so we can develop best practices." Experts worry that many health professionals are unable to recognize the symptoms and act effectively.

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By Valerie Tejeda

High Times

3/19/12 4:08pm

Latest High Times Staffer Charged With Dealing Pot


July 2002 cover of High Times Photo via

A senior writer at the pro-pot publication High Times is the latest in a long line of staffers under legal fire. Matthew Woodstock Stang, known as "Magazine Guy" in New York's marijuana-friendly circles, is charged with wholesaling multiple tons of marijuana smuggled from Florida for one of New York's oldest and largest pot rings. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison; his alleged partner, Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 200 pounds of marijuana last week. For nearly four decades, High Times has championed dope smokers' rights, carrying educational articles for growers and sellers and pushing “the word of marijuana … the word of legalization … the word of growing." But staffers have been known to push more than just words. Founder and “drug-culture mastermind" Gary Goodson killed himself six months after his implication in a failed Colombian drug trafficking attempt in 1978, which led to the death of a pilot. Back then, the magazine already had an estimated four million readers a month. It's been described by DEA agents as “the middle man in a dope deal.” In defense, managing editor Natasha Lewin said in 2010, "The message that the magazine is trying to get out to the world is that it's okay to smoke cannabis. It's okay to grow cannabis. It's okay because it shouldn't be illegal in the first place."

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By May Wilkerson

Celebrity busts

3/19/12 2:33pm

Penthouse Pet Nabbed After Month on the Run


Farrow arrives in custody in Sydney.
Photo via

Former Penthouse Pet Simone Farrow took part in a different kind of photo shoot on Australia's Gold Coast last week, after being arrested and charged with running a global drug ring. The 37-year-old bikini model, who did numerous ads for Ed Hardy and was voted one of the "sexiest women in the world" by FHM magazine, had been on the run for a month after failing to attend two scheduled court appearances and fleeing $150,000 bail. She was branded an international fugitive, then eventually found lying low in a cheap motel. The bail stems from an October 2009 arrest in which police seized 85 grams of crystal meth and other documents from Farrow's Hollywood apartment. She's accused of trafficking meth in bags of bath salts and setting up a fake company, GlobalStarr, to make shipments back to Australia through FedEx and the postal service. Cops claim she has at least 19 aliases, and believe she's the brains behind an "ongoing criminal enterprise" involving at least seven other people. Farrow was transferred to Sydney on Saturday, where she told reporters she only fled because "someone was trying to murder me." 

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By McCarton Ackerman

Smartphone addiction

3/19/12 1:34pm

How to Kick Your CrackBerry Habit


Turn it off. Thinkstock

They call them “CrackBerries” for a reason—in today’s busy world, smartphones can seem impossible to put down. The good news is, there's a way to fight your addiction. Research by the Harvard Business School suggests that turning off your device for just one evening a week will make you feel happier and improve your performance at work. The researchers studied 1,400 employees of the Boston Consulting Group for three years. The staff was banned from checking work after 6 pm one evening per week, during what was termed “Predictable Time Off” (PTO). Naturally, managers were wary of the rule at first—and some workaholic employees even refused to participate. But those who did utilize PTO said they spent more time with their families and working on their social lives, and found it led to a happier work environment. After three years, 59% of those who participated in the experiment agreed with the statement “I am excited to start work in the morning,” and 78% said they felt “satisfied” with their jobs. Comparatively, only 27% of those who didn't participate were excited to work in the morning, and only 67% felt satisfied. Professor Leslie Perlow, who came up with the idea for the study, concludes, “By being constantly connected to work, they seemed to be reinforcing—and worse, amplifying—the very pressures that caused them to need to be available.”

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By Chrisanne Grise


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