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sleeping pills

8/10/12 12:03pm

Sleeping Pills Pose Addiction Threat

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Can't sleep? Count sheep. Photo via

If you can't sleep, you may want to try counting sheep. Sleeping pills are known to be effective for short-term insomnia relief, but may cause long-term dependency problems, according to research from Flinders University in Australia. "Sleeping tablets provide short-term relief but when people stop taking them they might have a few bad nights and think they can’t sleep without taking the drug," says lead study author Professor Leon Lack. Many who suffer from insomnia report a lower quality of life, and even depression, which can perpetuate a cycle of depending on sleeping pills. “But it’s important for people to realize that sleep isn’t just one long, homogenous period of unconsciousness—we go through different stages of sleep," explains Lack, "from a deep sleep which lasts 80 to 90 minutes into a lighter, dreaming sleep, and over the course of a night we experience this pattern three or four times." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% of Americans are not getting enough sleep—and 10% of these suffer from chronic insomnia. In Australia, stats say about one-third of the country suffers from sleep-related issues. Lack suggests practicing good sleeping habits to prevent insomnia—such as going to bed when tired, using the bedroom only for sleep, getting up if you cannot sleep, and reducing the amount of time spent in bed while awake. “If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed then get up,” he says. “Don’t lie there awake because that associates the bedroom with frustration and anxiety.”

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By Valerie Tejeda

Sober stars

8/10/12 11:10am

Eminem Thanks Fans for Helping Him Out of "Dark Place"

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The rapper sports AA bling. Photo via

Eminem has never been known to hide his personal struggles, but last night he paid tribute to the people who helped him get through it: his fans. During a show at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, he told the sell-out crowd that he "wouldn't have gotten out of that dark place without y'all" and dedicated the evening's performance to "anybody tonight who's been through personal struggles." The rapper has been open about his battle with addiction; he admitted that in addition to his alcoholism, he was taking up to 20 pills a day at one point, including Vicodin, Valium, Ambien and methadone. He's even sported AA-related bling in the past—wearing a sobriety necklace that featured the Sobriety Circle & Triangle Symbol used by AA to the 2011 Grammys.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Headlines

8/10/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 10, 2012

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Dr. James West Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

Celebrity Addicts

8/09/12 4:01pm

Amy Winehouse's Ex Is in a Coma

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Fielder-Civil with ex-wife, Amy Winehouse.
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Just a year after his ex-wife Amy Winehouse died from alcoholic poisoning, Blake Fielder-Civil is in a medically induced coma and on life support after allegedly taking a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. A week ago, his girlfriend Sarah Aspin, with whom he has a 15-month-old son, found Fielder-Civil unconscious after he had returned home intoxicated. He was immediately rushed to the hospital with multiple organ failure and remains in critical condition. Says Aspin, "He's never really been a drinker, but when he got home with this friend, he was slurring his words and staggering. I thought he was on something. I was very angry because he'd be doing so well." The 30-year-old has a history with drugs and alcohol, and admitted in a 2008 interview that he may have introduced Winehouse to hard drugs. "I made the biggest mistake of my life by taking heroin in front of [Amy Winehouse]," he said. "I introduced her to heroin, crack cocaine, and self-harming. I feel more than guilty." Amy's father Mitch Winehouse, who has blamed his son-in-law for his daughter's decent into addiction, recently tweeted: “Terrible news about Blake this morning. Remember Amy loved him. Let’s pray for his recovery."

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By Gabrielle Wuhl

Ask Jane

8/09/12 3:05pm

Should Sober People Date Non-Sober People?

Q: Would you as a recovering alcoholic ever date someone who is not sober?

[Jane is now exclusively fielding your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to janevelezmitchell@thefix.com.]

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By Jane Velez-Mitchell

big alcohol

8/09/12 2:31pm

Africa's Binge Drinkers Tempt Big Alcohol

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Africa has the world's highest proportion
of binge drinkers. Photo via

As Western alcohol companies begin to swoop in on the African market, countries like South Africa, Kenya and Zambia face an overwhelming problem with alcohol abuse—and politicians are under increasing pressure to crack down. Africa has the highest proportion of binge drinkers, at about 25% of the population, despite the fact that large numbers of Muslims and evangelical Christians do not drink alcohol. "It's true that most people in Africa don't drink for cultural, religious and economic reasons but those who drink, drink a lot," says Dr. Vladimir Poznyak of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. Alcohol abuse has contributed to increased rates of driving accidents, violent crime and HIV, and about 122 out of every 1,000 children are born with illnesses like fetal alcohol syndrome—compared to about 8 per 1,000 babies in the US. Education about substance abuse is generally lacking, and laws to prevent underage drinking and drunk driving are rarely enforced. To make matters worse, brewers and distillers like SABMiller, Diageo, and Heineken are increasingly targeting African markets by offering “traditional” cultural beverages, sponsoring local football matches and running ads promoting "female empowerment." SABMiller is investing $2.5 billion over the next five years into breweries in Africa, and Diageo’s sales on the continent have risen on average by 15% each year for last five years.

These companies could risk losing their burgeoning alcohol market if the African governments do finally crack down on alcohol abuse. South Africa is considering a new law that would restrict alcohol advertising, raise the minimum drinking age to 21 and enforce stricter penalties for drunk driving. It would also raise booze taxes and propose warning labels on containers. Other countries like Kenya are looking to create similar laws. However, the beer breweries argue that increased taxes will actually be more damaging to the health of African drinkers: “The alternative is that lower income people who wish to consume liquor will buy illicit and potentially dangerous alcohol," says Vincent Maphai, executive director of Corporate Affairs at SABMiller's South African unit—referencing the dangerous home-brews often containing lethal ingredients such as battery acid. Still, health officials are mainly concerned with getting the binge drinking under control. "In spite of all economic benefits that increased investments in alcohol production and sales can bring, the health of the population should be properly protected and this should be a priority," Poznyak says. "Health is the best investment, also from an economic point of view, in any society."

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By Chrisanne Grise

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