Westworld actor Sir Anthony Hopkins opened up about his alcoholism at a LEAP (Leadership, Excellence and Accelerating Your Potential) Foundation event this week. As confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, the 80-year-old Hopkins is one of several speakers at this week’s event, joining the likes of actor Mark Wahlberg and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Hopkins told the event’s attendees, mainly high school and college students, that alcoholism plagued him early into his career. “I was very difficult to work with, as well, because I was usually hungover,” he said, adding that he was “disgusted, busted and not to be trusted” back in 1975, when his drinking was at its worst.
Demi Lovato Recovering from Drug Overdose
Singer Demi Lovato, who just last month revealed she was no longer sober, apparently overdosed on Tuesday. According to CBS News, Lovato was “found unresponsive” in her Los Angeles home after partying with people her friends and family feared were encouraging her drug habit. Lovato’s friends reportedly used the overdose-reversing medication Naloxone after discovering her Tuesday morning. “I think it was very wise for her friends, or family, or whoever it was to have Narcan on hand. They probably saved her life,” addiction psychiatrist Dr. Laurence Westreich told CBS News. TMZ added that she refused to tell EMTs what drug (or drugs) she had taken, while law enforcement officials say no drugs were seized at her home.
Officials Say Opioid Addiction Rates Are Plateauing in US
While the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association reports that opioid addiction rates are plateauing in the US, the opioid crisis isn’t winding down anytime soon. A Vox story says,“It’s a sobering reminder of just how long it might take America to get through the ongoing crisis.” That said, the “big finding” from the BCBSA data is that opioid use disorder declined 0.3% between 2016 and 2017 (from 6.2 per 1,000 patients to 5.9). It’s the first decline BCBSA has measured in eight years, Vox reported. “It means that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University. “The decrease in new cases of opioid addiction is likely due to the trend in more cautious prescribing and greater public awareness of opioid risks.”
Opioid Dependence Growing Among Seniors
A new study has revealed that over 500,000 Medicare patients received higher-than-normal doses of opioids in 2016. The growing problem among seniors “is rapidly coming into focus as awareness increases,” the ABC-7 story observed, noting that older patients suffer from more side effects, such as slower breathing and cognitive impairment, because they metabolize medications more slowly. Even worse, the story said, the government revealed that “hospital stays involving opioid overuse” grew by five times between 1993 and 2013 for people over the age of 45—more than any other age group.
New Cartoon Series Aims to Explain Science Behind Addiction
A brand-new animated video series, simply titled Addiction, launched this week. Addiction advocates hope that the series will not only explain the science behind addiction but also address some misconceptions about it along the way, the Chicago Tribune says. The series comes from the Addiction Policy Forum, a Washington, DC-based consortium of addiction awareness advocates. “There’s so much misinformation about this disease, everything from this being a choice and not a disease, the misunderstanding about how treatment works, misunderstandings about medications, about lengths of treatment and recovery support, how you develop this disease in the first place,” Jessica Hulsey Nickel, the group’s president, said. “We are surrounded and drowning in misinformation and myths.” The first episode, available now, is titled “The Hijacker.”
Most Americans Convinced Weed Is Good for You
Many Americans believe marijuana has health benefits, even though there is little to no evidence one way or the other, Newsweek reported. Over 9,000 US adults participated in an online survey, with 81% responding that weed had at least one medical benefit. From treating diseases like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis to providing some measure of relief from anxiety, stress or depression, the majority of Americans feel the drug is medically valuable. Not so fast, scientists say. “The public seems to have a much more favorable view [of marijuana]than is warranted by the current evidence,” the University of California San Francisco’s Dr. Salomeh Keyhani said in a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Interestingly, because the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes weed as a Schedule I substance (alongside heroin and MDMA), researchers are limited in being able to research it at all. “[People] believe things that we have no data for,” Keyhani cautioned. “We need better data. We need any data.” In the absence of empirical data, she suggests, Americans are (dangerously) coming to their own conclusions about the drug.
Are Police Departments More Effective, Thanks to Legal Pot?
While marijuana legalization remains a contentious issue for many throughout the US, Washington and Colorado may have already proven that it’s a good thing. According to The Washington Post, researchers at Washington State University have concluded that legal pot has “produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit” to police departments: “Our models show no negative effects of legalization and, instead, indicate that crime clearance rates for at least some types of crime are increasing faster in states that legalized than in those that did not,” researchers said. In states where weed has been legalized, police departments have apparently been able to focus on other, more serious types of crime, rather than getting bogged down with “low-level marijuana enforcement.” Researchers also noticed that the clearance rates of other types of crime, such as burglary and motor vehicle theft, spiked soon after legalization. By contrast, researchers said, national trends remained essentially flat. “While there were both immediate and longer term differences between states which legalized and the rest of the country in terms of crime clearance rates,” the authors said, “the long-term differences are much more pronounced, especially in Colorado.” In some ways, that’s all the proof that legalization advocates need to hear when it comes to the efficacy of how police departments use their resources. “Our results suggest that, just as marijuana legalization proponents argued, the legalization of marijuana influence police outcomes, which in the context of this article is modeled as improvements in clearance rates,” researchers said.