Three-time Olympic gold medalist Grant Hackett flew from Australia to the U.S. earlier this week to enter rehab for his addiction to Stilnox, also known as Ambien. Hackett made the decision to enter treatment after a bizarre incident in which he stumbled through a casino foyer in Melbourne, Australia with a singlet over his underwear and his four-year-old daughter, Charlize, under his arm as he searched for his twin son, Jagger. His family held an intervention afterwards and Hackett agreed to go to rehab.
“[He is] taking steps to seek help for a problem he has with Stilnox. His family and friends are enormously proud of his courage in pursuing this course of action,” said his spokesman in a statement. Hackett struggled with an addiction to Stilnox toward the end of his swimming career, as he used the drug to help him sleep while recovering from a shoulder injury. He said he was initially given the drug by swimming officials, but quickly began to abuse them and admitted that “at one point they scared me. They’re evil.”
Fellow swimming champion Michael Phelps also admitted to previously using Stilnox. Side effects from the anti-anxiety drug and sleeping pill include hallucinations, delusions, and other strange behavior. In 2013, the FDA required the makers of Ambien and Zolpimist to half the recommended dosage for women after studies linked it to car accidents from patients being too drowsy and experiencing impairments the morning after taking the drug.
It’s unclear whether Hackett will also seek help for alcohol abuse while in treatment. In 2011, a drunken rampage led to him infamously trashing the apartment he shared with then-wife Candace Alley and eight police cars being called to the scene. His father, Neville, said afterwards that his son was “a dickhead, but I love him.”
- Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Kentucky House Panel [Lexington Herald-Leader]
- Maine Man Cleared Of Crystal Meth Charges Because He Didn't Finish Cooking [Hip Hop Wired]
- British Woman Arrested For Liquid Cocaine Found In Lava Lamp [Telegraph]
- Cleveland Police Officer Fails Drug Test, Could Still Keep His Job [Cleveland.com]
- Known Breckenridge Pot Shack Dynamited After National Attention [KDVR]
- Colorado County Clerk Sees Larger-Than-Expected Returns, Declares: 'We Have To Sell More Weed' [The Smoking Section]
- Georgia House Passes Bill Adds New Chemicals As Synthetic Drugs [Times-Georgian]
- DEA Raids Doggy Daycare, Find Heroin And Meth [KING]
According to researchers in Germany, cannabis likely contributed to the deaths of two individuals who had underlying medical conditions. The findings are significant because up until now cannabis has not be associated with any acute physical problems or even death.
"To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full post-mortem investigations (...) were carried out," the researchers said. The study was conducted at university hospitals in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, and was published online in the journal Forensic Science International.
The deaths were two of 15 that were examined by Dr. Benno Hartung, one of the study’s authors, and his fellow researchers. The other 13 were found to have been caused by other factors, but two seemingly healthy young men, aged 23 and 28, died unexpectedly while smoking pot. One man had a serious undetected heart condition and the other had a history with alcohol, amphetamines, and cocaine. "We assume that these are very rare, isolated cases," Hartung told the Associated Press.
Dr. David Nutt, chairman of Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, said that the research was an "exceptionally complete collection of evidence in support of their theory that, unusually, cannabis was the trigger for these two tragedies."
"People with vulnerable hearts should be informed of this risk with cannabis," Nutt said.
By contrast, around 88,000 deaths each year are attributed to excessive alcohol use, making booze the third-highest lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. Cigarettes contribute more than 480,000 deaths per year – or one out of every five deaths – making tobacco use the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
Surprising as it may seem, an Austin, TX man spent New Year's Day 2013 in jail and waited over a year for his DWI trial despite having a BAC of 0.00.
On January 1, 2013, Larry Davis was pulled over after he ran a red light. The arresting officer suspected drunk driving and arrested Davis, despite an insistence that he'd only had one drink. Davis subsequently blew a stone-cold sober 0.00 on a breathalyzer. Later testing for seven different types of drugs also came up negative.
"I told them I would take a blood sample as well, just to prove that I didn't have anything in my system," Davis said.
Davis' lawyer, Daniel Betts, was equally surprised at the lack of evidence for Davis' outstanding DWI charge. "My reaction was just shock that this happened," Betts said.
Even more surprising is that this wasn't the first time such a thing has happened. Since 2011, the county's courts have thrown out 30 percent of all drunk driving cases because the evidence presented was too weak. Despite such a high rate of dismissals, the Austin Police Department plans to stick with their take-no-chances policy.
"If there is someone who is impaired, we don't want them driving. We need to get them off the road, so that was probably his mindset," said APD Commander David Mahoney. But he admits Davis' case was unusual, since Austin police almost never bring in a driver who blows a 0.00 and shows nothing on a blood test.
Davis and his lawyer plan on filing a grievance case against the arresting officer.
Despite making a last ditch attempt to hide a bag of cocaine in a flower planter in front of his arresting officer, a Key West, Fla. man claimed he didn't know he was doing anything wrong. "I thought cocaine wasn't illegal in Florida," Guy Lanchester, 46, told arresting officers, unwittingly becoming another in a long line of Florida punchlines.
The 46-year-old painter was arrested at Key West's Pier House Resort after a security guard witnessed Lanchester and two others trespassing on the property and heard a woman scream. In addition to cocaine possession, Lanchester was also charged with felony tampering of evidence after trying to stash the baggie right before the arresting officer's eyes.
"I asked Lanchester what he had in his hand and Lanchester quickly shoved his hands into the flower pot and yanked them back out," said Officer Darnell Sealy.
But Lanchester's sleight of hand was no match for a quick wave of Sealy's flashlight, which revealed a baggie containing 0.8 ounces of cocaine.
Lanchester's two companions were searched and released. The reason for the woman's scream was not provided by police.
With the Better Call Saul series spinoff scheduled to start shooting in November, Albuquerque’s love of the show that put the city on the map continues unabated. But questions still remain over how to reconcile Breaking Bad tourism with a crystal meth problem that continues to rip through the city.
A perfect example of the consumer weirdness in Albuquerque was reported in the Seattle Times. In an Old Town district store called The Candy Lady, one middle-aged woman whispered to another like a drug addict buying drugs from her dealer. “Five bags of the blue stuff,” she said.
As opposed to actual crystal meth, the customer squirrelled away five packets of a turquoise-tinted confection designed to look like the plastic bags of Heisenberg's infamous Blue Sky brand of crystal meth. In a city known as the methamphetamine capital of the Southwest, such a moment captures the deadly irony that plagues the thriving Breaking Bad tourist industry.
After all, how can a city effectively combat the rising toll caused by crystal meth abuse and addiction while at the same time celebrating an iconic show about the drug? The huge tourist industry that has arisen round Breaking Bad includes products and services that encompass just about anything a fan of the show could imagine. Months after the final episode and the death of Walter White, the zeitgeist of Albuquerque remains focused on his twisted story.
Ann Lerner, the city’s film liaison rationalized the conundrum. “It’s really amazing. People in Hollywood can actually spell Albuquerque now… (and) Breaking Bad really isn’t about meth at all. It’s about a desperate man making desperate decisions."
When you realize that Breaking Bad tourism and products have generated millions of dollars for struggling shops, restaurants, and hotels throughout the city, such rationalizations make sense. Still, with meth use among the city's youth increasing and the death toll rising, the question over how to reconcile the double standard must be addressed.