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sexuality and addiction

6/06/12 1:31pm

"Sexual Fluidity" Linked to Substance Abuse

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Being in between ain't always easy. Photo via

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".

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By May Wilkerson

recovery community

6/06/12 12:23pm

Caron Honors Addiction Activists

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Caron award-winners included Sgt. Sweeney
(third from left) and Dr. Twerski
(second from right). Photo via

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.

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By Hunter R. Slaton

Celebrity DUIs

6/06/12 11:47am

Amanda Bynes Begs Obama to Nix Her DUI Rap

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Bynes has begged Barack to help. Photo via

It can only be hoped that Barack Obama has more important things to do today. Actress Amanda Bynes was officially charged yesterday with DUI, following her arrest last April—when she sideswiped a cop car and allegedly tried to flee the scene. But she's not taking it quietly. The actress was so outraged by the charge that she took to Twitter to deny all and appeal to President Obama for help. "Hey @BarackObama... I don't drink," she wrote. "Please fire the cop who arrested me. I also don't hit and run. The end." The DA in the case is also seeking a sentencing enhancement because Bynes refused to take a breathalyzer or blood test—which means that she'll face a minimum of two days and maximum of six months in jail if convicted. However, because of prison overcrowding, it's unlikely she would actually serve more than a few hours in the slammer. It's been a rough few months behind the wheel for Bynes, who has been accused of two hit-and-runs in the last two months and also drove away from a police officer while he was writing her a ticket last March. Maybe it's time for her to start taking cabs.

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By McCarton Ackerman

drugs and depression

6/06/12 11:02am

Treating Teen Depression Cuts Drug Abuse

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Treating teen depression yields an added
benefit. Photo via

Treating depression among teens can curb drug abuse according to a new study. Published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers from Duke University found that of 192 teens who successfully received depression treatment, only 10% later abused drugs, compared to 25% whose treatment was unsuccessful. “It turned out that whatever they responded to—cognitive-behavioral therapy, Prozac, both treatments, or a placebo—if they did respond within 12 weeks they were less likely to develop a drug-use disorder,” says Dr. John Curry, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. Researchers believe that mood regulation from the medications, life skills taken from the therapy, and receiving support from others all played a big part in later decisions to stay drug-free. The teens were required to have five symptoms of major depression to be considered for the study, such as: depressed mood; worthlessness; loss of interest; poor concentration; disruptions in appetite, sleep or energy; and suicidal thoughts. Surprisingly though, alcohol use among the participants was unchanged by depression treatment. “It does point out that alcohol use disorders are very prevalent during that particular age period," says Curry, "and there’s a need for a lot of prevention and education for college students to avoid getting into heavy drinking and then the beginnings of an alcohol disorder. I think that is definitely a take-home message.” 

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

6/06/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 6, 2012

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Police found a Packer's ring while busting
a drug ring. Photo via

By Bryan Le

Beatlemania

6/05/12 4:58pm

Paul McCartney Battled Booze Post-Beatles

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Yesterday: Sir Paul on stage at the Queen's
Jubilee Photo via

Sir Paul McCartney says he turned to alcohol in the '70s to cope with the demise of The Beatles—and as a result, he went through a creative dry spell. The singer/songwriter began to abuse booze during the band's last years. "The Beatles, towards the end, was very constricting," he says. "You were in a corporate world suddenly. It's not what you get into music for…and it got very heavy… So I think I was just trying to escape in my own mind." Even though The Beatles are thought to have touted drugs in many of their song lyrics, such as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (LSD), McCartney claims he and John Lennon were "very straight when we wrote, and it was normally in the middle of the day when you had your wits about you." But after the band broke up, he began drinking in the studio. "I'd be getting like 'Heeyyyy, nice and fuzzy' and it's not a good thing to write," he says. Evidently he was able to regain his creativity; he went on to sell over 100 million albums and 100 million singles, and to be named "The Most Successful Composer and Recording Artist of All Time" by the Guinness Book of World Records. McCartney, who turns 70 in a few weeks, says he's long since given up his booze habit—although he continued to get high with a little help from his friend, marijuana, well in to the 21st century. "I smoked my fair share," he recently told Rolling Stone. But he vowed to give up pot for the sake of his 8-year-old daughter, Beatrice. McCartney was in top form last night at Buckingham Palace, performing for British royalty alongside the likes of Elton John and Tom Jones in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

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By May Wilkerson

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