Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains talks sobriety on a newly-released video from the MusiCares MAP fund benefit on May 31. Cantrell, the guitarist and co-founder of the band, was honored with the Stevie Ray Vaughan award for his contributions to the organization, which helps addicted musicians. “I’m as imperfect as they come,” says Cantrell of his rocky road to recovery. “I just try to do what I can to not get high today, you know.” Alice in Chains has had serious substance abuse problems over its 20-year history, losing two members to addiction: singer Layne Staley in 2002, and bassist Mike Starr in 2011. Cantrell shares the details of how he finally decided to get clean: “Shawn [Kinney, Alice in Chains' drummer] was at the door with my brother. So my choices were open the door and go to rehab or jump out the back window, down down a cliff, into some blackberry bushes. That’s the choice I took,” he says. “And I ended up here. So, I didn’t intend to get here but I’m very grateful that I am here and it took a lot of people to help me get here.” Billy Idol guitarist Billy Morrison says of Cantrell, “He’s probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.” And former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan has words of praise for MusiCares: “It’s a resource we have. We’re sort of taking care of our own community.”
The biggest supplier of marijuana in Uruguay could soon be the country's own government. A proposed bill would let the government sell marijuana to adult citizens who are registered on a database, making the South American country the world's first pot-dealing nation. It's an attempt to take profits out of the hands of organized crime and prevent users from graduating to harder drugs, thereby reducing social costs. "We're shifting toward a stricter state control of the distribution and production of this drug," says Minister of Defense Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro. "It's a fight on both fronts: against consumption and drug trafficking. We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself." In addition, money on the taxes from government-sold marijuana would go towards rehabilitating addicts. But some medical experts in the country oppose the idea, claiming that marijuana is both dangerous and a gateway to harder drugs. "In the long-run, marijuana is still poison," argues Guillermo Castro, head of psychiatry at the Hospital Britanico in Montevideo. "If it's going to be openly legalized, something that is now in the hands of politics, it's important that they explain to people what it is and what it produces. I think it would much more effective to educate people about drugs instead of legalizing them." Possession of marijuana for personal use has never been a criminal offense in Uruguay.
Tara Handron is the sole actor and playwright in the show Drunk With Hope in Chicago—and in one dizzying hour, she portrays 15 different alcoholic women in various stages of active addiction and recovery. The play, which she wrote as part of her Master's thesis for Georgetown University, aims to subvert social stigmas against alcoholics—particularly women. Although "it's gotten better," Handron tells The Fix, "for a long time it's been taboo to be an active alcoholic, which prevents many women from seeking recovery." The media often depicts addiction in "black and white extremes," she notes—when in reality, addiction takes "so many different forms." Handron, who also works at the Caron Foundation in DC, compiled her characters based on the many women she's met and spoken with in the course of her work and her personal life. She's so far performed the play, which is directed by Laura Brienza, at conferences and theater festivals across the US—including New York City and DC as well as her hometown, Chicago. And she hopes the show will help people to see addiction "as a disease, an illness, not a moral deficiency." Drunk With Hope in Chicago runs tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at LA's Theater of NOTE, as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. You can find tickets here.
Maine has just experienced its biggest jump in annual crime since 1975—and the state's Public Safety Commissioner John E. Morris blames prescription drugs for the problem. Overall crime in the state has increased 5.4% from 2010-2011. But the most noticeable trend is that pharmacy robberies have doubled during that time. There were 24 pharmacy robberies in 2010, compared with just two in 2008—and 23 pharmacies have been held up already this year. If that growth rate continues, 14% of all pharmacies in Maine will have been subject to a robbery by the end of the year. Home burglaries in the state also jumped 10%—and many of them are of a very specific kind. "I contend that prescription drug addicts, who are unfortunately sick with this addiction, are also the primary cause of the increase of burglaries throughout the state,” says Morris. “These aren’t traditional burglaries. These are people sick with addiction breaking into houses to get prescription drugs. Unfortunately, their targets are those infirm or the elderly who they think are on prescription drugs." Oxycodone is currently Maine's drug of choice.
A hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign in Thailand is pulling out the big guns—and small people—with a new PSA featuring kids approaching adult smokers to ask, "Do you have a light?" The Thai Health Promotion Foundation conducted a social experiment with the documentary-style commercial (below), Smoking Kid. None of the smokers agrees to give the kids a light; they remind them instead that smoking is harmful. One man lectures: “If you smoke, you die faster. Don’t you want to live and play?” The kids then turn the tables on the adults, asking "So why are you smoking?” and hand out a brochure for a smoking cessation helpline. Since airing the commercial, the foundation says calls to the helpline have increased by 40%. The ad also notes that after the children walked away, many adult smokers threw away their cigarettes—but none threw away the smoking cessation brochure.
- Iran's Hidden Alcoholism Problem [BBC]
- Response to Painkillers May Be Linked to Genetics [MSNBC]
- Rodney King's Death: 'The Disease Won,' Says Pal [Radar Online]
- Baby Soap & Shampoo Set Off Positive Drug Test [Perez Hilton]
- Claim of Dementia Doesn't Provide DUI Defense to Former NFL Star [NBC]
- Driver Blames GPS for Car Ending Up in Golf Course Bunker [USA Today]
- Recovering Alcoholic Edie Falco Explains Her Battle to Her Son [Daily Mail]