Three guys died when I was at the halfway house: Chris, Arturo, and Luke. They all died right after I left in pretty quick succession. Each one hurt like a motherfucker.
I haven’t been to war, so I can’t comment on what that experience is like, but people who go through rehab or a halfway house walk a tough road together and not all of them make it. We knew we faced a powerful adversary that demanded respect. Unlike combat, the adversary was inside of us.
Chris was the ﬁrst of my friends to die. He was a “rock star” and had been in a band whose videos I’d watched on MTV in the ’80s. He was the prototypical rock dude; tall, incredibly skinny, with long dark hair and puffy bangs. When he checked into the halfway house, he had a big abscess on his arm from where he’d gotten infected shooting up speedballs. Speedballs! Coke and heroin shot into your arm—the shit that killed John Belushi. I am laughing thinking about it; who in the fuck does that unless they are fully 100 percent at peace with dying at ANY moment?
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The man in charge of Liberia’s presidential motorcade security was arrested over the weekend for using the lead convoy jeep, “Escort 1,” to allegedly transport 654 pounds of marijuana (enough for approximately 148,500 joints) from Sierra Leone through the border town of Bo Waterside, the Associated Press has reported.
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A step beyond caffeine, an increasingly common use of ADHD medications like Adderall falls in a realm of definite benefit to productivity and focus, but arguable medical necessity.
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"I feel it’s easier to get acid or speed than it is to buy bubblegum at a store, because (at a store) you have to wait in line."
In recent weeks, ProPublica has published a major—and scathing—investigative series on the dangers of Tylenol’s main active ingredient, acetaminophen. Two years in the making, this series shows yet again the essential role of investigative journalism in providing public information that can literally save lives.
On the chance that the impact of the revelations has already been overtaken by other news, here again is the gist of the stories. Tylenol’s marketing has long emphasized its safety. Among the more memorable of its advertisements was that Tylenol was the pain reliever “hospitals use most” and packages asserted that the pills provided “safe, fast pain relief.” It turns out that these claims were dangerously misleading, and were known to be so by both the pharmaceutical manufacturer and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To expand the reach of its findings to millions of radio listeners, ProPublica, brought in public radio’s This American Life as a collaborator which incisively summarized ProPublica’s evidence of the dangers of acetaminophen. “During the last decade,” the first ProPublica piece begins, “more than 1,500 Americans died after taking too much of a drug renowned for its safety.” Moreover, the series and broadcast showed that the FDA has known for decades about the scale of the problem, but has failed to fully implement a succession of recommendations and warnings.
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We don’t know much about Meredith Hunter other than that he killed the American Hippie. We know that his friends called him Murdock, and that he was 18, and that there were three weeks until the last day of the 1960s. 300,000 people had gathered at the Altamont Raceway Park near San Francisco for Woodstock’s Pacific reincarnation, but of the increasingly violent masses, he was the only one who stormed the stage with a gun, and the only one who was stabbed to death by a Hell’s Angel.
Today, we know Hunter mostly in the context of his death, but even there he’s just a metaphor. In the rise-and-fall narrative of hippie culture, he is simply the Altamont tragedy, and Altamont is known as the day the music died.
In his reflections on the recent anniversary of the September 11th attacks, John Cassidy discusses the human “saliency bias”—our habit of forming memories around jarring events rather than, say, a series of minor incidents whose impact nets about equal. This mechanism explains how and why history can link a generation’s implosion to one day at the end of the decade. For both sides of the culture, the tragedy’s gruesome rawness gave legitimacy to the concern that peace and love were quite literally killing the country.
Consider Olivia Rotondo, whose by-all-accounts-normal life suggests that her death could have happened to anyone. Four hours after tweeting her excitement about the Electric Zoo Festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island, she collapsed in front of a paramedic, saying the seven words that in the weeks since have become a macabre Exhibit A in the campaign against the drug that is said to have killed her.
“I just took six hits of Molly.”
She died that night. Jeffrey Russ, a 23-year old also believed to have taken MDMA (the drug’s proper name) had passed away 18 hours earlier. The following day—what would have been the grand finale to the three-day gyration of 100,000 neon-clad ravers—Randall’s Island was deserted and silent.
Since it first plugged in its equipment five summers ago, Electric Zoo has marked the end of the annual electronic festival season in the United States, the centerpiece each year of one of the country’s most mainstream and lucrative new artistic industries. In 2012, electronic dance music (EDM) spawned eleven platinum hits and increased the population of Miami by one quarter for one of the biggest American musical events since Woodstock. It has repackaged and commoditized the two-decade-old EDM mantra of “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect” (usually abbreviated to “PLUR”) that apparently captures what this whole vision, with its bass drops and Day-Glo campiness, and a certain synthetic chemical stimulant, has always been about.
It’s too soon to tell how the Electric Zoo tragedies will influence the cachet of either the music or MDMA use in America, though many believe they go hand-in-hand, to such an extent that it’s hard to determine exactly which came first.
“If you look at electronic dance music culture, it seems to be more diverse, more accepting of the ‘other’, more welcoming of gay people—a counter-ethos of ‘we’re in it together,’” Dr. Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told me. “There’s a spiritual aspect to it. For many, the drug serves that function. There’s something fundamentally wholesome about these communal dance parties.”
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[…]The one drug that seems to be causing most concern is a deadly cocktail nicknamed nyaope or whoonga, said to be a mixture of third grade heroin, rat poison, cleaning detergents, and sometimes HIV antiretroviral medication [ARVs] — ” crack with a sickening twist ,” the British broadcaster Channel 4. It’s sold as bags of white powder and is usually added to dagga and smoked as a joint.
It first emerged in late 2006 to early 2007, but has come to wider attention within the last year or so partly due to increased international media coverage, with some stories claiming it to be an austerity drug similar to krokodil in Russia and sisa in Greece. Bulelani dismisses this claim. “This is not an austerity drug. Nyaope is part of everyday culture in the townships. We’re not in austerity, we’re in poverty.”
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In 1971, President Richard Nixon announced the federal government’s “War on Drugs,” calling controlled substances’ widespread use “public enemy No. 1…” One Dr. Jerome Jaffe had seen positive results weaning junkies off heroin using methadone, and Nixon appointed him head of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention. As a 2012 Frontline pointed out, Nixon’s program would be one of the few where federal funds prioritized treatment rather than law enforcement. Every administration since has boosted the war’s funding while militarizing its enforcement. In President Obama’s first year in office, officials announced a sunset of the “counter-productive” term “war on drugs,” a gesture that amounted to an after-the-fact admission of defeat.
This federal campaign has driven several of TV’s better serial dramas, including HBO’s The Wire, Showtime’s Weeds, and Netflix’s new Orange Is the New Black, which follows a naïve middle-class drug mule into women’s prison. But two such properties, Breaking Bad and Nurse Jackie, reveal just how radically the counterculture that the “war on drugs” sought to prosecute has shifted over the decades: from one of classic-rock flower power to one of death-metal corruption.
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Convincing women — mothers, especially — that legalization wasn’t simply about stoners and libertarians was essential to ending blanket prohibition. They needed to be assured this was sound policy and that their children would not be affected.
"We definitely wanted to reach [women]," says Tonia Winchester, the outreach director behind the Yes on I-502 camp. "We were very much focused on not being a pro-pot campaign but a pro-policy campaign, showing that we could shift resources from incarcerating and focus on programs we knew would work."
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