England: home of rampant alcohol abuse. But the northern city of Liverpool—with an even higher percentage of binge drinkers than the national average, according to a 2008 NHS study—is making a valiant effort to change. September saw the opening of The Brink: a new kind of bar, without the fights, the puke and most importantly, the booze. Funded through a charity called Action on Addiction, it's described as a dry bar or, if you will, a "so-bar." One of The Brink's goals is to supply a hip way for people in recovery to reorganize their social lives, and offer a place to go that feels like home (a bar) without the attendant dangers of the usual nightspots. It's received some favorable press. But the question is whether the bar can sell enough virgin cocktails—in Liverpool, of all places—to survive and support a staff without charging exorbitant amounts for liquor. As (wet) bar owner Matt Spencer says, "It's more of a hip version of AA, but unless someone's offering to pay the rent, I can't see how it can make money."
About 15,000 people arrived at US emergency rooms in 2009 after being deliberately drugged by someone else without their knowledge, finds a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The victims' demographics are broad: nearly 75% are over the age of 21—and perhaps surprisingly, almost 40% are male. Most cases—just under 60%—involve drinks being spiked. The motives for these poisonings aren't good ones; they include the desire to rob, attack or rape—about three million American women in total have been raped in cases found to involve non-consensual drugging. "This is not an epidemic, but it is a serious situation," says Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. He lists "stimulants, cocaine, ecstasy, anxiety drugs" as among those used. And the reported figures understate the problem: some people will never know they were drugged, with memory loss often a symptom. Delany warns, "if you're in a situation where there's drinking and drug use going on, you need to keep an eye on things and pay attention."
- Brazil Police Target Drug Gangs in Rio's Biggest Slum [BBC]
- Empty Homes Go to Pot in Foreclosure-Plagued Vegas [LA Times]
- Bolivia is Number One Cocaine Supplier to South American Market, Says UN [Fox News Latino]
- On Georgia Alcohol Sales, Religion Gives Way to Economics [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
- Alarm at Growing Addiction Problems Among Professionals [The Guardian]
- New Zealand Rugby Star "Ashamed" After Naked Blackout [New Zealand Herald]
- Combating Alcoholism in Dubai [Time Out Dubai]
A woman was shot in the head as she sat in a car outside an AA meeting in Baldwin Park, LA County, Thursday night. A fistfight broke out between two men during the meeting at First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin Park at around 7:30pm. Cops said one of the combatants was the woman's husband. The struggle spilled out into the parking lot, where one of the men pulled a handgun. His shot was aimed at the husband, but hit the woman in the car instead, as the vehicle veered across the street and into a fence on the other side. The suspect, described as a Latino male around 20 years old, fled the scene. The victim was taken to LA County USC Medical Center, where her condition was described as stable. Shocking as the incident may seem, it's far from the first outbreak of AA-related violence.
Richard Lee, the activist who founded cannabis college Oaksterdam University, remains defiant in the face of the Obama administration's recent judicial crackdown on medical marijuana in California. "It’s just another symptom of the failure of prohibition," he tells The Fix. ”Law enforcement is futile...like water running downhill... They may close some places and hurt some people—in the long run it won't change much." Prosecutors contend that the industry is a front for illegal recreational sales, in- and out-of-state. But Lee—who recently closed his Oakland dispensary Coffeeshop Blue Sky under pressure from the Feds, then immediately re-opened it three doors down—tells us he’d rather see renegade Californian growers "make a few extra bucks" than have the cash go to violent Mexican cartels. He doesn't deny that medical marijuana often ends up in the hands of recreational users; he just refuses to call it a problem. Lee's confident that the heat drawn by illicit sales won't hurt the legalization cause: “I think the movement is too big for that to be an issue."
Teenagers have long taken their vodka in experimental fashion: eating boozy Gummi bears and pouring the liquid onto your eyeball are two options. But now girls in the Phoenix area are soaking tampons in the spirit, then inserting them where they're designed to go, hospitals report. It gives you a quick rush because, "It's a very vascular structure," as Dr. Dan Quan of Maricopa Medical Center explains to KPHO: "Quicker high; they think it's going to last longer. It's more intense." A super tampon can absorb roughly one shot of vodka. However, "This is definitely not just girls," says school resource officer Chris Thomas. "Guys will also use it and they'll insert it into their rectums." He also stresses that this isn't just a Phoenix phenomenon: "This is everywhere." Indeed, it was reported in Germany earlier this year. The practice can irritate the vaginal wall. More seriously, it bypasses the body's defenses to alcohol poisoning: there's no stomach acid involved, and no gag reflex to expel alcohol when you over-consume. You can pass out without warning. And while avoiding boozy breath may sound good if you're trying to fool your parents, it can also mean hospital staff don't know what to look for, wasting vital time.