Binge drinking makes college students feel rich and powerful—regardless of background or social status—which translates to feeling "happier," according to a report released at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver. The report was based on a study of the social standing and boozing habits of over 1,595 students at a small, predominantly white liberal arts college. They found that the "higher status" students (wealthy, white, male, heterosexual and/or participating in Greek life) were reportedly happier than their lower-income, female, non-white, homosexual and/or non-Greek-affiliated classmates. But when the "lower status" students engaged in binge drinking (four drinks at once for female and five drinks for males) they reported feelings of "social satisfaction" more similar to those of the "higher status" students. “Binge drinking is a symbolic proxy for higher social status in college and is correspondingly related to greater social satisfaction,” concludes Carolyn Hsu, the lead study author. Dr. Mark Jaffe, a psychiatrist at Cliffside Malibu Drug Detox Program, agrees: “For the price of a six-pack or two of beer, a minority or poorer student can feel as if they have become a member of the Beverly Hills Country Club.” He says that knowing this will help experts develop “better ways to change the social and cultural pressures that exist in colleges that cause binge drinking to occur.”
Still, some doctors have reservations about the accuracy of the study's findings. “Since [the study] is descriptive and not experimental, the two end points may not be linked,” says Dr. Fulton T. Crews, director of Alcohol Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Richard Saitz, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University is also skeptical: “This does not mean that the alcohol is what leads to the satisfaction,” he points out. “Imagine a school where it is the norm to wear a T-shirt with the sports team’s logo and most students report doing so. Would it be a surprise to find out that those who wore the shirt were more socially satisfied? I don’t think so. Would the shirt be causing social satisfaction? Probably not.”
Earlier this month, star LSU cornerback Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu was dismissed from his football team for violations of the school’s drug policy—and over the weekend, it came out via Honey Badger’s father that the young man had checked into Right Step rehab, in Houston, to get a handle on his pot problem (including synthetic mary jane). Mathieu is being helped in his recovery by former Houston Rockets basketball player and NBA head coach John Lucas, who battled cocaine and alcohol addictions himself before getting sober. LSU head coach Les Miles, who took the Tigers to the BCS National Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide last season—only to lose 21-0 to ‘Bama’s suffocating defense—sounded rueful but optimistic when discussing Mathieu’s case. “We have a simple policy here of behavior,” said Miles. “Consequences are pretty spelled out and defined... For Ty, it’s an opportunity for him to redirect. He’s still got a bright future. I think he can really accomplish all the goals he set for himself. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be doable.” One thing that’s now less doable, however—at least for Coach Miles and the remaining Tigers—is winning a national championship this year. Prior to Honey Badger getting the boot, LSU ranked No. 1 in pre-season polls. But after news hit that Mathieu was out, the AP did a do-over on the voting—and results released on Saturday revealed LSU at No. 3, trailing USC and Alabama.
Married couples often joke that their spouses drive them to drink, but a new study suggests that—for women—the claim is true. Sociologists from the University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Texas found that marriage does often drive women to increase their alcohol intake—not because they’re necessarily unhappy, but because they’re influenced by their husbands' drinking, and men typically booze more than women. For a similar reason, men who are married drink less, because they spend more time with their less-boozy wives, rather than their drinking buddies. The opposite is true of divorced men, who are at a particularly high risk for alcohol abuse, the study found: three-quarters of divorced men said they drank more to cope with the pain of their marriage ending. But alcohol consumption among women decreased sharply post-divorce. The researchers examined large Wisconsin surveys from 1993 and 2004 about monthly alcohol intake, while also conducting 120 qualitative in-depth interviews over the past decade. "Some research suggests that men are more likely to cope with stressors in 'externalizing' ways (i.e., alcohol use)," writes lead researcher Corinne Reczek, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati, "while women are more likely to cope in 'internalizing' ways (e.g., depression)."
A new synthetic drug has been wreaking havoc in Charleston, West Virginia: within a two-day period last week, eight people in the city reportedly overdosed and were hospitalized, thanks to a substance known as AM 2201. Originally thought to be a form of crack cocaine, AM 2201 is actually a synthetic cannabinoid that's been used used to coat the potpourri sold as synthetic marijuana. Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, director of the West Virginia Poison Control Center in Charleston, said she'd expect the effects of the drugs to be similar to other synthetic marijuana products like K2 and Spice—which could include extreme anxiety, hallucinations, vomiting and seizures. The effects of AM 2201 on these OD victims appeared to be immediate and included collapsing. “The reason they’re having such an adverse reaction is that they’re smoking it in pure form. If they were smoking it as K2, the chemical would have been diluted,” said Lt. Steve Cooper, chief detective for the Charleston Police Department. Predictably, these incidents are already being hyped by some media as the new "bath salts"—a substance that's already no stranger to sensationalization. Global Grind reported that the eight overdoses were in fact eight deaths. No such deaths have been mentioned by the Charleston Police Department.
The Real World got all too real when 29-year-old Joey Kovar, who appeared on The Real World: Hollywood and Celebrity Rehab, was found dead in Chicago on Thursday night. It's suspected that he consumed a possible combination of cocaine, alcohol and Viagra. Law enforcement officials say that Kovar’s eyes were blackened—a common side effect of a drug overdose—with a brain aneurysm the possible ultimate cause of death. A friend of Kovar’s also told police that she saw him take drugs such as Xanax and Adderall in the weeks leading up to his death. During his time on The Real World, Kovar left mid-season to attend rehab for alcohol abuse. He later appeared on Celebrity Rehab, where he sought treatment for addictions to ecstasy and cocaine. “RIP Joey Kovar my heart breaks. My love and prayers go out to your family,” tweeted Celeb Rehab cast mate Mackenzie Phillips. Even with evidence pointing toward drugs, Kovar’s family denies that he died from an overdose. “That is not what anyone is suspecting, my brother was doing very well,” says Joey’s brother, David Kovar. “Everything was going very well. The very, very last thing that our family is suspecting is drugs.” A toxicology report will be released in the next few weeks.
- Narconon Drug Rehab Report Prompts Church of Scientology Statements [Examiner]
- What Hepatitis C May Tell Us About Drug Use and Addiction [NPR]
- Marriage Curbs Men's Drinking, Makes Women Drink More [Counsel & Heal]
- Treating Addiction: Why Kind Love Beats Tough Love [Time]
- Ex-Drug Addict Now Helps Reunite Families [USA Today]
- The Privileged, Young Heroin Addicts of Orange County [LAist]
- Republican Congressman Scolded After Drinking and Nudity in Israel [ABC News]