Russell Brand Celebrates 16 Years of Sobriety: This Week in Recovery

Russell Brand Celebrates 16 Years of Sobriety: This Week in Addiction and Recovery News


Actor and comedian Russell Brand celebrated 16 years of sobriety this week, according to The Daily Mail. The 43-year-old made the announcement through his Twitter page. In the video, he was emotional as he described his journey to sobriety following his heroin and crack additions. “I remember being eggshell fragile, this time sixteen years ago,” he said. “I’d scored two brown—that’s heroin, two white—that’s crack. It may be a little more.” He added that he was “sneaking off to do drugs” in his friends’ bathrooms. He credits support groups and his family with helping him to find long-term sobriety. “Now, 16 years, two daughters, married, dogs, peace of mind, not enslaved by the opinion of others, not enslaved by ‘Aw, if I could get more money, if I could get more fame, if I could get more sex. All the things that get me off drink and drugs can be worked in every area of life and those of you that are struggling with drink, drugs, food, sex, porn, bad relationships. Other people’s opinions, all of these things you can be liberated from.”

Opioids Don’t Work for Chronic Pain, New Study Says

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the country, a new study released Tuesday revealed that opioids are more trouble than they’re worth. “Other drugs and treatments such as physical therapy or ice may work better for non-cancer pain,” the study observed. “Yet when opioids fail to control pain, doctors often simply raise the dosage. This can help lead to a cycle of dependence and addiction.” Jason Busse of McMaster University in Ontario was among the researchers who dove into how well opioids work—or don’t, as the case may be. “The effects of opioids on chronic pain are uncertain, whereas the harms found to be associated with prescription opioids include diversion, addiction, overdose, and death,” Busse wrote in the report, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Opioids were associated with small improvements in pain, physical functioning, and sleep quality; unimportant improvement in social functioning; and no improvements in emotional functioning or role functioning,” the study concluded. It also added that from 2013 to 2016, the US was “the largest per-capita consumer of opioids in the world”—an eye-opening statistic that calls into question whether the United States has more pain than the rest of the world or that physicians have unwittingly driven a problem to epidemic proportions.

Wisconsin Ranked Worst State for Excess Drinking

A brand-new report released this week by the United Health Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to improving American health care, claims that Wisconsin is the worst state in the US when it comes to excessive drinking. In the foundation’s 29thannual “America’s Health Rankings” report, the Badger State was cited for its abnormally high percentage of adults who consume alcohol at a rate much higher than the national average. Factoring in community, environment, health outcomes and public policy (among other concerns), the report concluded that nearly a quarter of all adults in Wisconsin (24.2%) drank alcohol to excess. The Foundation defines “excessive drinking” by using two separate categories: “binge drinking” and “chronic drinking.” Binge drinkers include women who consumed four or more drinks on one occasion within the past 30 days (five drinks for men), while chronic drinkers are women who consumed eight or more alcoholic drinks per week (15 drinks for men). By contrast, the best-ranked state was Utah, as only 12.2% of its adults reported excess drinking there. The study also found that men, young adults and adults in higher-income homes are far more likely to drink to excess than women, older adults or adults in comparatively lower socioeconomic brackets. The Foundation’s annual report listed Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as the country’s most unhealthy states, while Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut sat at the top as the healthiest.

Kid Cudi ‘Ashamed’ to Discuss Mental Health

During an appearance on Jada Pinkett Smith’s interview series Red Table Talk this week, Kid Cudi admitted to being “ashamed” to discuss his struggles with mental health. Born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi in Cleveland, Ohio, the “Day ‘n’ Nite” performer argued that there is a persistent, dangerous stigma around mental health in the black community. In fact, Cudi added, it’s that stigma that keeps people from getting the help they otherwise need. “I was really good at keeping my troubles hidden…even from my friends,” Cudi told the Facebook show’s hosts Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Jones and Willow Smith. “I really was good with that. And it’s scary because you hear people say, ‘I had no clue.’ I really went out of my way to keep what I was going through hidden because I was ashamed.” Jada Pinkett Smith echoed Cudi by revealing her own struggles with mental health. “I was severely depressed—and that was something that I battled with for years.Waking up in the morning was like the worst part of the day. And it would take me hours [to adjust]. By the time the evening time came, at least I was like: ‘Okay, I’m good.’ But then you go to sleep again and you have to restart.” Over the last couple of years, Cudi has been open about his mental health struggles. In October 2016, Cudi checked into a rehab facility for “depression and suicidal urges.”According to data collected by the National Institute of Mental Health, over 6.8 million black Americans had a “diagnosable mental illness” in 2018. Similarly, writer Hafeez Baoku told the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that the black community’s stance on mental health needs to evolve. “If we are unable to remove the negative stigma surrounding mental health in the black community, we are willingly allowing another generation to grow up without access to counseling and mental health improvement resources that can help them live a happy, healthy life,” Baoku said.

Are Kids with Depression More Likely to Get Football Concussions?

Kids who suffer concussions while playing football may be at a greater risk of depression than others, Time reported. Published in The Journal of Pediatrics, the research squares with previous studies concluding that depression is an “all-too-common symptom of concussions,” as young athletes and retired NFL players alike struggle with mental health issues following brain injuries sustained on the football field. Time, however, turned the situation on its head by asking if kids diagnosed with depression are somehow more susceptible to suffering concussions than others their age. Surprisingly, new research on the matter says yes, as children who have been previously diagnosed with depression have a “five-fold increased risk” of suffering concussions. The new study collected data on 863 youth football players (aged 5 to 14) in the Seattle area across two separate seasons. Interestingly, researchers found that 5.1% of those football players suffered concussions—a trend well above the 4.4% range tracked in previous studies. Also, only 16 of the 863 players had been diagnosed with depression (0.02%). Regardless, researchers felt that their odds of suffering a concussion was “statistically significant” and would color many parents’ decisions to allow their kids to participate in the sport. Dr. Sara Chrisman, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of adolescent medicine, argued that children with a history of depression are far more inclined to notice concussion symptoms (fatigue and nausea) than other kids. In other words, children who have already been diagnosed with depression are more likely to understand their symptoms, which might underscore the higher rate of reported concussions.“Often people with mental health issues are very in tune with uncomfortableness in their bodies,” says Chrisman. “They’re more likely to be aware of changes. What’s not as distressing to someone else, might be distressing to them.”

Drug Addiction Specialist Charged with Buying Drugs on The Dark Web

Dr. Torin Finver, a New York doctor who specializes in addiction treatment, was arrested this week for importing heroin and cocaine. The US Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Finver had been charged for importing a controlled substance after three packages containing the illicit drugs were found. Finver was quickly fired from his position as medical director of Horizon Health and Renaissance Addiction Services. The charge, according to The Daily Mailcarries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison as well as a $1 million fine. Finver procured the drugs through dark web channels, the story said. “At this time, the university has no reason to believe that the charges are related to Dr. Finver’s duties at the university,” his school, the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science, said in a statement. “The university has a process in place to address instances where an employee is accused of a crime. We will take necessary steps to respond, with the understanding that all people accused of a crime are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”


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Paul Fuhr is an addiction recovery writer whose work has appeared in The Literary Review, The Live Oak Review, The Sobriety Collective and InRecovery Magazine, among others. He is the author of the alcoholism memoir “Bottleneck.” He's also the creator and co-host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and recovery. Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and their cats, Dr. No and Goldeneye.