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Survey Says

8/13/12 5:08pm

SAMHSA Confirms "Garbagehead" Trend

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Booze + drugs now account for 37%
of treatment admissions. Photo via

A report released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) confirms a troubling trend in addiction treatment, identified in The Fix’s data-driven “State of the Rehab Union” story from last week: namely, the rise of poly-substance abuse, which sees people checking into rehab hooked on some combo of alcohol and other drugs. According to SAMHSA’s report, more than 37% of people who enroll in treatment do so because of a problem with more than one chemical. Twenty-three percent of admissions are for drinking plus one other drug, while 14% report being addicted to alcohol and two or more other substances. That’s bad news, says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, because, “Even by themselves, alcohol and drug abuse can be devastating to one’s health and well-being, but a combination of drug and alcohol abuse increases one’s risk of serious, life-threatening consequences even more.”

Here's a slide from SAMHSA's report:

The Fix’s original research revealed that 17% of those who go to treatment struggle with more than one substance. Susan Foster, MSW, VP and director of policy research and analysis for CASAColumbia, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, told us that her outfit’s data pointed to an even higher incidence of poly-substance abuse: nearly 56%. Some of the differences in data are likely due to differences in methodology, but the overall takeaway remains the same, which is that the problem of being cross-addicted to a number of different substances (being a “garbagehead,” in the parlance of some 12-step meetings) is growing. Austin Recovery's president and CEO Jonathan Ross says of this trend, “I want to say it’s been evolving for 20 years, but especially in the last five to 10. I think even 10 years ago there was maybe more a single drug of choice.”

Check out this chart from The Fix about what substances and issues led people to seek treatment:what led respondents to seek rehab

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By Hunter R. Slaton

crappy hour

8/13/12 3:59pm

Portland Drinker Almost Gets Recycled

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Not an episode of Portlandia. Photo via

If you stick around the barbershop long enough you're bound to get a haircut, they say—and apparently if you sleep in a recycling bin, you may just get recycled. This was (almost) the case for Justin Gilpatrick, an Oregon resident who opted to take a nap in a recycling dumpster after a night of hard drinking at a Portland bar on Friday. Later that night, the contents of the dumpster—including the sleeping 27-year-old—were deposited into the recycling compactor of a garbage truck that was making its nightly round. Cops say Gilpatrick was compacted—twice—before the driver realized there was a human being inside. He was taken to the hospital after suffering minor injuries, and will not face charges—although he may have a few other issues to face. "I have not had a drink in years and the one time I do this I what happens," Gilpatrick posted on his Facebook page. "I will never drink again." 

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By May Wilkerson

booze marketing

8/13/12 2:55pm

Booze Ads Tell Kids, "Drink Irresponsibly"

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Ad for Blast-45 malt beverage, featuring
"Snoop Lion." Photo via

Alcohol marketers go to extreme lengths to reach kids, new research suggests, and their ads are more likely to violate industry standards in magazines that have younger readers. Researchers at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Johns Hopkins University examined 1,261 common ads for alcoholic drinks in 11 magazines with sizable youth readerships (at least 15%). They found these ads more likely to showcase "irresponsible drinking" behaviors, such as boozing on or near bodies of water, underage drinking, overconsumption and addiction. And nearly one in five of the ads contained sexual connotations or objectification. "The bottom line here is that youth are getting hit repeatedly by ads for spirits and beer in magazines geared towards their age demographic," says CAMY director and study co-author David Jernigan. "As at least 14 studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, or if already drinking, to drink more, this report should serve as a wake-up call to parents and everyone else concerned about the health of young people."  This isn't the first time the billion-dollar booze industry has come under fire for targeting young people. But despite pressure to adhere to self-enforced standards—or raise them—it seems no adjustments have been made. Alcohol is responsible for 4,700 deaths per year among under-21s, says CAMY, and is associated with the three leading causes of death in this age-group: vehicle accidents, homicide and suicide.

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By May Wilkerson

Prescription Drugs

8/13/12 1:43pm

Dot-Com Millionaire Caught Selling Painkillers

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Jennifer Sultan in court Photo via

A former dot-com millionaire is charged with selling prescription painkillers to an undercover police officer. Jennifer Sultan—a co-founder of Live Online, a live-streaming website that sold for $70 million back in 2000—was allegedly part of a five-member crime ring. She's also accused of attempting to sell a .357 Magnum to the group's alleged ringleader. A decade ago, Sultan and her boyfriend enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle, owning a $3.1 million loft in New York City and renting an 11-bedroom house in the Hamptons. But when the stock market collapsed in the early 2000s, Sultan lost much of her money, and despite subsequent attempts to start several other businesses, she never found the same level of success. It was during these tribulations that Sultan developed an addiction to pain meds—she was originally prescribed them for back pain that came from playing sports as a child and from a more recent fall in her apartment, according to her lawyer. Although Sultan told a judge she was trying to start a new acupuncture business back in January, she was actually getting involved in drug dealing. In February, a narcotics detective discovered Sultan’s Craigslist ad for prescription painkillers, and arranged a meeting with her. According to her indictment, Sultan sold pills to an undercover officer five times between February and June. A separate investigation into the crime ring discovered a text from Sultan to the purported ringleader, saying she wanted to sell him a .357 Magnum handgun for $850. Now bankrupt, Sultan is unable to raise the $85,000 for her own bail. If convicted, she faces 15 years to life in prison.

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By Chrisanne Grise

Mexican drug war

8/13/12 12:35pm

Drug Cartel Infiltrates Mexico's Supreme Court

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Barrera Vite "had ties" to the Sinaloa cartel.
Photo via

The long tentacles of Mexico's drug cartels seem to reach even into the country's Supreme Court: a court official has been arrested and arraigned for being in the pay of the Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking outfit. Juan Carlos de la Barrera Vite was apparently the inside man for Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman and took orders from Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, who was arrested last December and allegedly ran Sinaloa's operations across Durango state and the southern part of Chihuahua state. Barrera Vite primarily worked as a clerk in the Supreme Court, but began performing administrative duties in the personnel area in recent years for Justice Sergio Valls. He allegedly handed over confidential information, but the Supreme Court is insisting that Valls "did not have nor does he have any links to the acts alleged against the said person" and "at no time did sensitive information from the judicial body or its work get compromised." Guzman escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison in 2001 and has managed to defy arrest since then. As Mexico's most wanted man, he also made the Forbes list of the world's richest people with an estimated net worth of around $1 billion.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Sober Stars

8/13/12 11:28am

Fatboy Slim: From Alcoholism to the Olympics

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Fatboy Slim's partying is now confined to during
the show. Photo via

Remember Fatboy Slim? His notoriously low-budget dance troupe video for "Praise You" ruled MTV in 1999, but he struggled with alcoholism in subsequent years. However, the British DJ—aka Norman Cook—has been sober for the last three years and has just marked his recovery in the best way possible: by performing at last night's closing ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics on top of a giant, glowing octopus. "I gave up drinking three years ago and I've run the Brighton Marathon," he says. "Everything you do is a lot easier to deal with when you go to bed after a show rather than party for two days"—and that includes performing in front of the whole world. Although he still continues to make music and tour, he's no longer actively on a record label, which gives him complete creative control over his work—and he seems to prefer it that way. "As you get older, you realize you don't have to do any of that stuff," he says. "My career now is buoyant, but manageable. Basically, I do what I want."

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By McCarton Ackerman

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