Archive for December, 2017

Report: ‘Dr. Phil’ Show Gave Drugs, Alcohol To Guests With Addictions

Posted on: December 29th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

“Survivor” winner Todd Herzog, an alcoholic, says staffers left vodka in his dressing room and gave him Xanax.


By Sara Boboltz 2/28/2017 06:56 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2017



Guests on the “Dr. Phil” show who struggle with addiction have been supplied with drugs and alcohol before appearing on set for taping, according to a joint investigation between Stat and The Boston Globe published Thursday.

In one shocking example, “Survivor: China” winner Todd Herzog told reporters he appeared on the program drunk as he was dealing with alcoholism in 2013. Herzog said he found a liter of Smirnoff vodka in his dressing room, which he consumed, and was later handed a Xanax pill by a staffer to “calm his nerves.”

The show, hosted by the no-nonsense Southerner Phil McGraw, has been on-air since 2002, but McGraw gained a following with appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” before then.

During the episode with Herzog, who had to be assisted onstage, McGraw said he had “never talked to a guest who was closer to death.”

A family member of another guest told reporters their relative “bought heroin with the knowledge and support of show staff” before a taping. The report also states that “Dr. Phil” staff filmed another guest, who was pregnant, searching for a dealer on Los Angeles’ skid row.

Reporters note that the alleged actions of staffers can make for “riveting” television, but the show’s guests, who stay in hotels up to 48 hours before taping an episode, can experience a possibly dangerous withdrawal period during that time.

In a statement published online Friday, a spokesperson for the “Dr. Phil” show slammed the story as “unsubstantiated.”

“The STAT article does not fairly or accurately describe the methods of the ‘Dr. Phil’ show or its mission to educate millions of viewers about drug and alcohol addiction,” the statement read. “The show does not give drugs or alcohol to its guests and any suggestions to the contrary are errant nonsense.”

A psychologist who works for the show, Martin Greenberg, also denied the claims in the original report. In a statement provided to Stat and the Globe, he said that “addicts are notorious for lying, deflecting and trivializing.”

“But, if they are at risk when they arrive, then they were at risk before they arrived,” the statement continued. “The only change is they are one step closer to getting help, typically help they could not have even come close to affording.” Guests dealing with addiction are typically helped with referrals to treatment facilities.

According to the report, a mutually beneficial relationship between the “Dr. Phil” show and McGraw’s own business interests — namely a digital treatment program available for purchase by treatment facilities — may have contributed to the alleged abuse.

McGraw holds a doctorate in psychology but let his license to practice expire more than a decade ago. Over his television career, he’s faced criticisms and lawsuits for his approach to mental health, which the National Alliance on Mental Illness once called “serious enough to warrant investigation by a relevant board of licensure,” following a 2004 segment in which he diagnosed a 9-year-old boy as a potential killer.

The syndicated show is popular with women ages 25 to 54, a key daytime TV advertising demographic.

HuffPost reached out to a representative for McGraw but did not immediately receive a response.

This story has been updated with comment from a “Dr. Phil” spokesperson.




Governor Cuomo Launches Campaign to Warn New Yorkers About Fraudulent

Posted on: December 27th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

DECEMBER 27, 2017

Albany, NY

Campaign Encourages People to Report Patient Brokers Who Take Advantage of Those Seeking Treatment For Substance Use Disorders

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new public awareness campaign to crack down on “patient brokering,” a practice where brokers collect payments from addiction treatment providers in exchange for referring patients to those programs. The campaign warns New Yorkers about the fraudulent practice and urges that these brokers be reported.

“Vulnerable New Yorkers struggling with addiction are being targeted and falsely promised life-saving treatment services and then are given inadequate and ineffective treatment at outrageous costs,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this campaign, we make it clear that this reprehensible practice will not be tolerated in New York and will help ensure that people receive the appropriate assistance they need to reclaim their lives.”

The campaign was developed through a collaboration between OASAS and the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers and features posters encouraging people to report patient brokering activities to OASAS. The posters are available for download here and will also be emailed out to treatment providers across the state.

This awareness campaign is one of several initiatives aimed at stopping patient brokering. OASAS recently issued a directive that requires referrals to be delivered by OASAS-certified and -credentialed professionals, who are prohibited from receiving referral fees. New Yorkers can report suspicious activity by calling 1-800-553-5790 or emailing [email protected].

OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Making the decision to seek treatment is a critical first step for many people with substance use disorders and their families. Their bravery needs to be rewarded with the services that can best help them get on the road to recovery.”

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, community residence, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at or through the NYS OASAS websiteVisit to learn more about the warning signs of addiction, review information on how to get help, and access resources on how to facilitate conversations with loved ones and communities about addiction. For tools to use in talking to a young person about preventing alcohol or drug use, visit the State’s Talk2Prevent website.




Fergie reveals past crystal meth addiction caused hallucinations ‘on a daily basis’

Posted on: December 12th, 2017 by sobrietyresources



Thursday, December 7, 2017, 7:40 AM


Fergie is coming clean about the lowest point of her life — a crystal meth addiction.

The Black Eye Peas star struggled with an addiction to the drug prior to her time in the group, she told iNews in an interview published Thursday.

“At my lowest point, I was (suffering from) chemically induced psychosis and dementia,” she told the British news publication. “I was hallucinating on a daily basis. It took a year after getting off that drug for the chemicals in my brain to settle so that I stopped seeing things.”

The singer was addicted to the dangerous substance while part of the group Wild Orchid, and she remained addicted even after she left the group in 2001.

“The drugs thing, it was a hell of a lot of fun… until it wasn’t,” she recalled of her years as an addict. “But you know what, I thank the day it happened to me. Because that’s my strength, my faith, my hope for something better.”

Fergie, 42, explained that during the height of her crystal meth habit, she was convinced the CIA, FBI and SWAT teams were following her. Those hallucinations led her to freak out in a church, believing they were after her.

“They tried to kick me out, because I was moving down the aisles in this crazy way, as I thought there was an infrared camera in the church trying to check for my body,” she recalled.

“I bolted past the altar into the hallway and two people were chasing me. I remember thinking if I walk outside, and the SWAT team’s out there, I was right all along. But if they’re not out there, then it’s the drugs making me see things and I’m going to end up in an institution.”

The mother of one said she found the moment in the parking lot to be “freeing.”

Crystal meth is a methamphetamine that affects the central nervous system and has no legal use, according to WebMD. Some of the main short-term side effects include hallucinations, bizarre and erratic behavior, panic and psychosis among others.

Fergie, whose real name is Stacy Ann Ferguson, has said hypnotherapy assisted in her overcoming the addiction and continues to help her relax. She’s now been clean for 18 years.

Fergie announced in September that she and husband Josh Duhamel, who she married in 2009, separated earlier this year.

“Both Josh and I are working full-time right now. It gets tough and we get tired, but we’re trying our hardest to make sure that kid feels nothing but love,” Fergie said of their 4-year-old son Axl.

“There’s a lot going on. That’s why we wanted to find our footing with our separation before we announced it publicly, to make sure we really got it together for our kid. It’s a constant juggling act,” she continued to iNews.

The singer is now on the road promoting her new album “Double Duchess,” which debuted in September.





The Stigma of Addiction Is More Dangerous Than Drug Overdoses

Posted on: December 12th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

People in recovery aren’t feeding the stigma. It comes from people who don’t understand addiction.
07/14/2017 12:24 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2017
Warning: graphic material

There’s this look people get when I tell them I’m a heroin addict. It’s a blank, panicked stare. As though I’d delivered some fatal news. It’s Stage Four, I may as well say. We don’t know how long I’ve got left.
Because when I say I’m an alcoholic and a heroin addict, what they think I mean is that I’m dying. That I have this illness, this deadly illness that is actually killing one person in this country every four minutes, one person who has no idea what they’re in for, and that I am doomed, with a mark on me. The word addiction is not a disorder, to them. It’s a death sentence. It is shorthand for tragedy.
Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter, to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied, to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal. Maybe I am morally infirm as well.
I will say this: my addiction has guaranteed me a life that is never going to be boring.

I started drinking when I was 13, swallowing what was left in the wine glasses after dinner. I drank alone, because I was rarely invited to parties. I was sensitive to the cool, dark river than ran just under the surface of my life, its purple currents always tugging at me, urging me to take the plunge. When I finally did, I was relieved at what drugs and alcohol did for me. Suddenly, my life made sense. Everything clicked into place — I knew who I was. I dove into my drug use, not looking back at the shore until I was far beyond reach.
I didn’t realize how deep my addiction was until I tried to stop using. The first time, I lasted a couple of days, and then relapsed. That night, head bobbing, sick, I sat on the porch smoking a cigarette. I was crying. I hadn’t meant to use, and I didn’t want to be high. I lowered its burning cherry to my knee and brushed its burning tip to my skin. The pain seared through my leg, but I continued. My hand was steady. Negative reinforcement. That will make me not do this again. I still have a perfectly round scar on the spot where I finally extinguished it.
I took a week off after that, and then overdosed in my bedroom. I remember lying there, the rolled up dollar bill and trace of powder on the mirror by my bed. My eyes were glued to the clock. The red minute hand agitated across its face, shivering each time it clicked into place. Tick. Tick. I wanted to be conscious, but my heartbeat slowed, and slowed, and the muscle in my chest felt as though it was being buried under a pile of stones. I remember the moment that it stopped beating.
I must be dead, I thought. I waited.
When I came to, the first thing I heard was the sound of beating wings, as though an angel stood in each corner of the room. It was the sound of my heart, spontaneously beginning to beat again. I was soaked in sweat and vomit. My face was streaked with blood, thin, iron poor blood as pink as a rabbit’s nose. I had a pulse. Erratic. I rolled onto my side. This time, I was going to stop. I knew I was lucky to be alive. I knew that what I’d just experienced was a miracle, a one-time act of mercy. The cheap substance cut into the dope I’d snorted chased around my nervous system, making my muscles spasm. I was thirsty. My eyes hurt. I stayed where I was, promising whatever God had spared me that I was finally going to clean up my act.
It wasn’t that easy. I kept using. Was I a tragic figure? I liked to think so. I was too thin, pale, and erratic. I saw myself as an artiste, the kind of person who dies with a trunk full of unpublished stories and is discovered as their generation’s great genius. In reality, I wrote massive quantities of trash. I was talented but undisciplined. And young, too. I was 23 when I got sober, which felt like years too late.
Leaving my addiction behind was not easy. Life without drugs and alcohol was, at first, even harder than life getting loaded every day. It seemed like every movie, song, and short story somehow glorified the misery of heroin or alcohol abuse. I was tired of reading work by drunk, entitled writers; I was tired of celebrity obituaries that listed the deadly cocktail the autopsy found in their blood. I was tired of the loud gay bars, the screaming girls taking shots, the way that alcohol was weirdly everywhere. I just wanted to live my life. I didn’t need anyone to tell me who I was.

There is a stigma attached to addiction which can be deadly. But it’s not my stigma — I stopped carrying that shame and embarrassment around years ago, if I ever felt it at all. I experience this stigma when I share my identity with people who aren’t addicts, who don’t know someone in recovery, or who hold onto the idea that people like me are somehow second class citizens.
It’s not my stigma. It’s yours. And your ignorance and fear is a much greater risk to me than a relapse. Your problem with addiction is much more likely to kill me than my problem with it. It’s time to change the story about substance use disorder, and that doesn’t necessarily start with me. It starts with the story you’re telling yourself about me.
Less than 10% of people like me end up asking for treatment, or medical help of any kind, for their substance problems. Less than 10%. That’s not because we don’t want help. It’s because, in this culture, merely admitting that you need help means wearing a scarlet A on your chest for the rest of your life. A is for Addict. A is for Alcoholic. People like me often barely survive this disease, only to be treated to a lifetime of unequal treatment, unkindness, prejudice, and discrimination.
If I am honest about my addiction, I could lose my job, my home, and custody of my child. I could be denied medical care. I could be treated like a criminal, even though I haven’t broken any laws. If these things happen to me, the stigma surrounding my illness means I’ll be told that I deserve to be treated this way. After all, I’m an addict. All my problems must be of my own making.
If that’s the case, why come out at all? I’m not exaggerating when I say that we’d rather die. It’s common for people like me to struggle to get sober. We might share our secret with one or two trusted friends, or in a closed Facebook group. Instead of asking for help, we stay as isolated as we were when we were using. We’re vulnerable. We’re alone. If we pick up again, it’s as though that brief period of sobriety never happened. Maybe the people who knew are disappointed — but so what? Everyone else still thinks we’re losers. We go back to being exactly what you told us we were.

The only thing I can do to change your misconceptions about me is keep showing up, and showing myself. My addiction is something I cope with, daily. I make my choices with this in mind. I know I’m in remission: I’m not cured. I do what I can to make sure I stay healthy.
Do I look like a ticking time bomb? I do not. I look healthy, whole, and strong, because I am. I’m a good citizen. I’m not a criminal, a bad parent, a lazy tenant, or an irresponsible employee. I vote. I pay my taxes. I don’t start shit. You can’t say that about a lot of people, whether they’re in recovery or not. Some of the worst people I know have no mental health issues of any kind.
I’ve stopped listening to people who tell me to be quiet about my illness. What’s the point of being ashamed about something that is part of me? I can’t change the color of my eyes or the shade of my skin, and I can’t magically make my addiction disappear. Even after a long period of recovery, I’m still a person who has this disorder. I may as well be living with diabetes, HIV, cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis, or any other chronic, relapsing illness. Yet, I’m not treated with the same dignity and compassion as people who cope with those diseases. Why?
If you wouldn’t shame me for my sexuality, race, gender, class, level of education, or faith, then don’t shame me for my addiction, either.
Addiction is neither a curse, nor a blessing. It is simply a fact for me. I don’t take my recovery for granted. I do what I need to do to ensure that it’s there when I wake up tomorrow morning.
The fact is, I died in my bedroom years ago. I’m convinced that everything I’ve experienced since then, including getting sober and learning to stay that way, is the afterlife. If this is Heaven, it’s a weird one, but then — I’m a weird person.
Or maybe you are the weirdo, in your obstinate belief that something is wrong with me and that I am less equal or deserving than you.
Nothing is wrong with me except your story about me. The next time I say, I’m a heroin addict, please try to listen without flinching. Look at me instead. Do you see me? Or do your fears erase me, turn me into a junkie?
If we’re going to heal this stigma, I don’t need to know what you think of me. I need you to know what I think of me. I want you to see what I see when I look at myself. I see a person. An interesting one. Not sick, and not stigmatized. Not even needing your pity. Just surviving — and lucky, to be telling my own story instead of being part of yours.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

Eric Clapton Talks Addiction, Cream’s Brilliance, the Future of the Guitar

Posted on: December 8th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

The guitar icon looks back on his turbulent history, as chronicled in new doc ‘Life in 12 Bars,’ and ahead to what’s next


By David Fricke December 4, 2017


Directed by Lili Fini Zanuck, Life in 12 Bars also has extraordinary footage of Clapton onstage with Cream in the Sixties and revealing interviews with the women in his life including his grandmother Rose – who raised him after Clapton’s 16-year-old mother, Patricia, left England with his father, a Canadian airman – and first wife Pattie Boyd, the object of Clapton’s romantic obsession on 1970’s Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The film is unflinching, too, about the deep blues inside those he sang, with painfully frank sequences on Clapton’s battles with heroin, alcohol and the accidental 1991 death of his young son Conor, which inspired the Grammy-winning ballad “Tears in Heaven.”There is a remarkable scene early in Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, the new Showtime documentary about the guitarist’s career, that sums up his meteoric rise as a British-blues prodigy and worldwide superstar: Bob Dylan in a London hotel room in 1965 watching John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers on television and raving over that band’s guitarist – Clapton, now 72, then barely out of his teens. “I still can’t believe that’s real,” Clapton says, laughing, in a New York hotel lobby the day after a screening. “I thought, ‘Oh, that must be Photoshop-ed.'”

But Clapton is also facing forward, working on his next studio album. “I’m in the middle of it,” he reveals, noting that “it started with the leftover” from the cache of rare and previously unrecorded demos that formed the basis of his 2014 covers tribute, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. “I still have some JJ songs that we’re playing with. “Sometimes we mix them with dub, sometimes we take it back to pure country.” Clapton is writing new material as well with his studio collaborator and keyboard player Simon Climie.

“And then I’ll do some shows next year,” Clapton declares late in this interview, conducted for the current issue of Rolling Stone and greatly expanded here in depth, range and candor. In fact, two weeks after this conversation, the guitarist announced a huge outdoor show on July 8th with special guests Santana, Steve Winwood and Gary Clark Jr. in London’s Hyde Park – the site of Clapton’s live debut with Blind Faith in 1969. But, he insists, “I don’t see it as touring anymore – just one date at a time.”

You saw the film again yesterday. What is it like to walk through your life like that?
It’s not as bad as the first time I saw it. I was in an editing room. There was one scene that I was really uncertain about, which was the semi-racial thing that went down during my worst period. I made remarks onstage about foreigners [at a show in Birmingham, England in 1976]. Being the drunk that I was, I just went on a rant.

Did you ask Lili to take it out? 
I just have to face the guy that I became when I was fueled on drugs and alcohol. It’s incomprehensible to me, in a way, that I got so far out. And there was no one to challenge me. Because I may have become quite intimidating. People said they couldn’t challenge me because I came back twice as strong.

The only guy who did was my manager [at the time], Roger Forrester. He said to me, “You’ve got a problem.” When I decided he was right, he was the person I called. He packed me up and sent me off to [the rehab facility] Hazelden. When I got to Hazelden, I had to sign this thing saying who is your significant other. Anyone else would have put a family member – or my wife. I was married. But I put him. Because he was the only one who would stand up to me and call me out.

The first part of the film is about how you became a musician. The second is about how music saved you at every turn – from obsession, drugs, alcohol and even the death of your son. When things were at rock bottom, you always had the guitar.
I would add one thing – listening to music became just as important as being able to play. During all of those periods of my life, I found new or old music that helped me, that got me through even when I wasn’t playing well or I wasn’t playing at all. It might be Maria Callas singing or the playing of [Delta bluesman] Tommy McClennan. I remember coming out of the smack period [in the early Seventies] – anything I heard would reduce me to tears, especially if it came from the heart. The music from Carousel still does bring me to tears.

That clip of Dylan watching you on TV with John Mayall is an example of the incredible happenstance in your life. You lived at a historic intersection of cultural forces in the Sixties. And you participated in them, because you actually had the gift.
It was a good time. Lili and I were talking about it again today, about how free that period was in the Sixties and early Seventies. There wasn’t a consciousness about what would be successful or not. It didn’t matter as long as you took a shot at everything and just kept on playing. And if anyone came in, [they could] join in. It was open.

By the time I got to the Nineties, I was really confused about the competitive nature of music. Bands were aggressive to one another, judgmental. You just make records and hope that they do better than the other guy’s records. In that point you’re talking about, anything could happen, and it had nothing to do with success.

The film opens with your video tribute to B.B. King after he died in 2015. It sets a tone too: Many of the faces and voices in the movie – Duane Allman, Cream’s Jack Bruce, George Harrison, your friend and Cream roadie Ben Palmer – are gone.
I don’t want to even think about that. I’m determined to stick around as long as I can. I’m watching everything. I go to the doctor’s at the slightest sign of anything.

How is your health? On the back cover of your last album, I Still Do, there is a photo of you playing guitar with a fingerless glove on your hand.
I had eczema from head to foot. The palms of my hand were coming off, and I had just started making this record with [producer] Glyn Johns. It was a catastrophe. I had to wear mittens with Band-Aids around the hands and played a lot of slide [guitar] as a result.

When I saw you in concert this year, in the spring and fall, there were no gloves.
My hands are good. It hasn’t gone completely, but I put ointment on. It’s just getting old now. I’m as good now as I’ve been in the last two years.

Have you ever considered the possibility that, because of illness or age, you couldn’t play guitar again?
That would be alright. I would accept it. Because playing is difficult anyway. I have to get on the bottom of the ladder every time I play guitar, just to tune it. Then I have to go through the whole threshold of getting calluses [on the fingers] back, coordination.

But the guitar comes up a lot in the film as a place of refuge for you.
I still go there. If there is trouble in the house, which is very rare, I pick up my guitar and remove myself from the situation. I will inevitably play something bland, an exercise. But it will keep me from being engaged in the conflict.

Is that something you recognized as a boy? 
I became acquainted with it pretty quick, because I would go to it immediately. I would always go to that place to find some peace. It would always be a staple for stress.

Yet you did have a thing about attachment – leaving the Yardbirds and Mayall, breaking up Cream and Derek and the Dominos.
Ben [Palmer] says that [in the film] – I could achieve very strong relationships, and the next day I’d be gone. Yeah, that is peculiar. But it was never like that with the music. To this day, I can return to the stuff that I first heard, and it will have the same effect on me that it did then. There is a section of the film where Cream is playing at the Fillmore; we’re playing around Ginger [Baker]’s drum solo …

It was so good. We were playing so well together. And watching that, I thought if only they [Baker and Bruce] could have found a way to resolve their conflict. I was having the time of my life musically. But like Ben said, the bickering was outrageous. I don’t know if you could fairly say which one it was, or if it was my inability to take part. Maybe it wasn’t the same guy all the time.

At least one of you was crazy at some point in the day.
Exactly. But the music was getting so refined that it made it alright.

One of the shots in the film that I like – and it goes by in an instant – is the photo of the Crawdaddy Club in London, where the Yardbirds played. And there are two guys …
Climbing on the ceiling.

It looks like a punk-rock moshpit.
It really was.

People who see you in arenas now might not realize you made your bones in these wild environments.
We were club musicians – low-ceiling places where you’d share a dressing room with the other band. When you came in, they were taking their trousers off. Very tight, small places – that was what I was most comfortable with. Doing arenas – I’m still not used to it. I like to create a little space in front of me where I think I’m playing in a little room.

How do you do that in the Garden?
I look at the exit signs [laughs]. I look somewhere in the back, into the darkness, and I think, “Oh, I’m in the Marquee” or “I’m in the Flamingo Club.”

You also have that open space, when you solo in blues numbers like “Little Queen of Spades,” where you seem most free as a player.
That’s always there for me. I have to maintain that. Any time it gets into set pieces, I don’t really want to be there. It’s another version of “For Your Love” [the Yardbirds’ 1965 pop hit – Clapton played on the record but quit before it came out]. Anytime I can play free, it is in 12 bars. That’s a good title [for the film]. It’s the way I approach everything.

It’s the most difficult thing to write, a modern blues. The only person I know who can do it well is Robert Cray. It comes straight out of him. I saw him recently this year, and he’s still doing it. He’s on fire, the real thing. I wish I could be like that. Really, I’m a musician. I try to be a singer and songwriter, and it’s interesting to me. But I would never think of myself as that. I’m just a blues musician.

Would you consider “Tears in Heaven” a blues? The circumstances would suggest that.
It isn’t. I was trying to write [Jimmy Cliff’s ] “Many Rivers to Cross” or [Bob Marley’s] “No Woman, No Cry.” It’s the same chord progression. I don’t know if I could express what I’m feeling in a blues, because a blues is at a level of anger and self-pity. And this was different.

There is a great B.B. quote in the film in which he describes the way you play a blues solo as “like putting pieces in a puzzle.” 
That’s how I see it. I create a portion of time for a beginning and an end. It has to make sense, make a picture. If left to my own devices in the studio, I will go over and over and over until I think it is as refined as it can be. “Layla” was like that, like building a puzzle.

Is the puzzle ever complete?
It’s never complete. But I remember one night in Philadelphia with Cream. It was near the end of our touring together [in 1968]. We knew it was over. We were just having a good time playing. And I remember thinking “This is as great as it will ever be.” Have I ever been satisfied? Definitely for one night, yeah.

Ed Sheeran has said that you were the reason he started playing guitar. What do you say to younger artists like him about navigating the perils of success?
I don’t think you say anything, to be honest [laughs]. He has asked my advice. And what I’ve said to him is, “Slow down. Don’t burn it all up too fast.” But he seems to be committed to go as far as he can. He wants to conquer the globe. But what do you do then? Where do you go from there? It can’t always be up – for anybody.

How do you look back on your stardom in the Sixties and Seventies? You had pursuit of the music without worrying about the celebrity – as if the work was enough.
We didn’t consider what we were doing as business. I always use Cream as an example. We were just told where to go. We didn’t have time to think about how much money we were making, what was the right strategy, which town you should go to. Now you have guys like Ed who direct and produce their own shows. The music is part of that. But we couldn’t have done it that way then. It would have been a distraction.

What do you do to get away from the business – the distractions from your craft?
I have a business manager who talks to me almost daily about what we should be doing, like how we’re managing Crossroads [Clapton’s addiction treatment center in Antigua]. A lot of the time, I’ve told people to leave me alone, because I need to play. And it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of devotion to get to the point where what I’m playing is presentable.

When I was young, it was easy to get to that place. I had no relationships, no children, no business. I had nothing to worry about but play. Now there are all these things which I’m happy to be responsible for. But it does distract me from what makes it all possible.

We’ve talked before about the future of the guitar. Some people think the instrument has said what it needs to say in the culture, in music. Do you believe it still has a future as an expressive force? And what would you say to a young player looking for an original voice in there, especially going up against icons like yourself, B.B. and Jimi Hendrix?
This is funny, because I’ve had a conversation about this phenomenon just a while ago. In the last few months, I’ve been talking to a guy who doesn’t know where to go next. It was a conversation with a young musician who contacted me through some friends. I could see that he was genuine and I was interested in what he had to offer. Finally we had lunch and he said, “Do you want to listen to something?” It was esoteric and abstract, and I thought, “Where would this go?”

I wanted the guy to be taken somewhere. I could hear that he was in his own head too much, and that can be a cul de sac. There is always something to listen to, to aspire to, with the guitar. It is still the most flexible instrument. You can improvise on it. You have such freedom. I don’t think there is a limit to it.

That is heartening. Because I love guitars – the more, the merrier.
Me too [smiles]. Anyone who talks about it [the guitar as a spent force] should listen to Roebuck Staples [founding guitarist of the Staples Singers]. It is so moving. And that’s in the past. So it’s not about what’s to be. It’s already there. If you can get in touch with that, you can do anything.


Why Are Some People More Vulnerable to Addiction than Others?

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

By Edward J. Khantzian 10/29/15

“I don’t use the heroin to get high; I use it to feel normal.”

We still don’t get it right when it comes to understanding addiction. The most recent example of our failure to appreciate what makes addictive behavior so compelling is the burgeoning widespread addiction to the synthetic opiate oxycodone—with all of its tragic consequences. We keep reacting as if the problem is the potency of the drug itself that leads to the escalation of use and, unfortunately, sometimes progression to the more deadly intravenous use of heroin. The examples that are most frequently encountered are the instances where oxycodone was initially prescribed for some medical or surgical problem, but then the person becomes “hooked.” As the psychoanalyst Sandor Rado instructed at the turn of the 20th century, it is not the drug but the urge to use it that causes addiction. Similarly, Norman Zinberg pointed out that it is the drug interacting with the person and their surroundings—i.e., drug, set, and setting—that leads to addiction. I offer another example that has recently caught my attention as yet another mischaracterization and misunderstanding of what addiction is about.  This one has to do with recent clinician warnings that addicted individuals on the street and in correctional settings are seeking out Seroquel, a powerful antipsychotic drug, to “get high.” This is just one more pejorative and stigmatizing misinterpretation of addiction.  Addiction Treatment pioneer Edward Khantzian has had a bird’s eye view of every substance use trend and drug epidemic over the past half-century. His Self-Medication Hypothesis, which encourages the view of addiction as an attempt, however unsuccessful or self-defeating, to relieve the user’s internal psychological distress, has demonstrated both empirical and intuitive validity over time. In his second piece for Professional Voices, Dr. Khantzian looks at the Q Ball phenomenon, in which people seek out and “misuse” the powerful antipsychotic Seroquel…Richard Juman

The generic name for Seroquel is quetiapine, thus the use of the street term “Q Ball.” While the street name of the drug draws a parallel to street use of “speedball” injections—an intravenous admixture of opiate and cocaine—the presumed intentions behind the misuse of the two drugs couldn’t be more different. You don’t get “high” on Seroquel—you get tranquilized, you get relief from something so disturbing that it makes you go to great lengths to shut it off.

As my colleagues and I have written in the past, I believe that substance addiction “functions as a compensatory means to modulate distressful affects and self-soothe from unmanageable psychological states” and that substance misusers are unsuccessful in managing negative emotional states on their own, without the use of substances. Instead, “substance abusers use drug actions, both physiological and psychological effects, to regulate distressful emotions and achieve an emotional stability.” I view substance addiction and misuse as an interplay between the properties of the drug of choice and the “inner states of psychological suffering and personality organization” of the user.

For example, opiates (e.g., heroin, codeine, and oxycodone), which are used medically for pain management, may similarly be used by persons who have difficulty managing their rage and aggression, which I posit are “often linked back to earlier traumatic exposure to violence and aggression.” In this manner, “opiate abuse functions as a temporarily adaptive response that mutes and attenuates the rage and aggression.”

As another example, the drug effects of cocaine use may include elevated mood, improved confidence and an enhancement of feelings of self-esteem. There is evidence to suggest that “low-energy individuals use cocaine because they do not possess an adequate degree of psychological capacity to relieve themselves from the feelings of boredom, emptiness, and fatigue state, whereas high-energy individuals use cocaine because of their magnified need for elated sensations. Cocaine users’ need to regulate inner emptiness, boredom, and depressive states or to maintain restlessness draw them to the powerful, energizing effects of cocaine.”

Finally, alcohol misusers frequently present with “rigidly overcontained, constricted emotions. To avoid distressful affects, emotions are isolated and “cut off” from abusers’ awareness through the use of rigid defenses, leaving the feelings of emptiness and isolation.” Alcohol, a depressant with sedating and relaxing qualities, softens these rigid defenses and provides relief from these constricted emotions.


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So I argue that simplified explanations for the seductiveness of drugs are insufficient explanations for the development of addiction, whether it is alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone or Seroquel. The use, misuse and sometimes dependence on these substances are driven by a meaningful and purposeful connection between the inner state of the individual and the effects of the person’s drug of choice. As psychoanalyst Debra Rothschild has pointed out, in addiction theory and practice “the object of study should be the individual rather than the substance.” Here, in what follows I offer a perspective on some of the psychodynamic determinants that make addiction so compelling.

With respect to Seroquel, it could be argued that since it is sedating, individuals are drawn to it to help them sleep. More often, what is not sufficiently appreciated in these cases is why individuals seek these drugs out so persistently. Indeed, if it is for sleep, we do not often enough ask what keeps people from sleep. And in the case of inmates who seek it out for reasons beyond sleep, what could its appeal be? Is it possible that Seroquel does for them what is does for the more seriously mentally ill?

The term “sedative” does not do justice to the effects of medications like Seroquel. Medications in this category are powerful agents to quell states of agitation, intense fear and uncontrollable rage and violent feelings. Recent reports, for example, indicate that quetiapine is effective in treating patients who suffer with borderline personality, a condition in which the aforementioned intense painful emotions predominate. Opiate pain medications have similar actions. As a returning combat veteran suffering with all the violent feelings of rage and anger associated with his PTSD put it, “I don’t use the heroin to get high; I use it to feel normal.” These feeling states can keep us awake and tossing, or can cause a person such discomfort as to want to “zone out.” Pharmaceuticals such as Seroquel are powerful calming agents, which in good part explains their appeal. Yet unlike addictive drugs, Seroquel does not cause tolerance (the need to use more to get the same effect) or dramatic withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued.

Despite the fact that individuals who experience extreme physical trauma (e.g., painful burn conditions), and are treated with opiate pain killers, in the largest majority of instances do not become addicted. What more likely happens is a vulnerable person discovers that such drugs counter more than the feelings of physical pain. Rather, the drugs grab ahold of susceptible individuals because knowingly or unknowingly they suffer with co-existing psychiatric conditions and painful psychological feelings and states. A recovering alcoholic physician, a reserved and reticent man, described himself as a “born-again” isolationist, and in exquisite and colorful language, described in group therapy the preparation of a gin martini—the scent of the bitters, the crackling of the ice, etc. Then he exuberantly exclaimed, “I could feel free, be one of the guys, I could join the human race!”

Addictive drugs, as powerfully compelling as they can be, are not universally appealing. Whether in non-medical experimentation or legitimate medical use, most individuals exposed to these drugs do not become addicted. We still tend to explain the appeal of addictive drugs on the basis of reward and pleasure (“the high”) that can be obtained from these drugs. Such explanations derive from old and new theories about addiction. Freud and his early followers emphasized pleasure drives (and to some extent destructive drives), and modern neuroscientists, examining where the drugs act in the brain explain that addictive drugs “hijack” the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.

Then if it is not pleasure or physical pain that causes addiction, why are some of us more vulnerable than others to addiction? My colleagues and I at Cambridge Hospital have collectively spent more than six decades trying to explore, understand, and explain the powerfully compelling nature of addiction. Beyond biological addictive mechanisms of tolerance and withdrawal, and genetic predispositions, we have had enough extensive clinical evidence backed by empirical studies to conclude that addictive disorders are related to the powerful effects addictive drugs have on a range of painful feeling states, thus giving them their appeal. For example, there is data indicating that there is a far disproportionately high co-occurrence of addictive disorders in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia, conditions which have unimaginable emotional pain associated with them, which we understand makes such people self-medicate. And one need not suffer with a painful psychiatric condition, however, to find addictive drugs appealing. Those who endure excessive painful or intolerable emotions are also more likely to find inordinate relief and comfort in addictive drugs. If there is “reward” associated with addictions, it is less the reward of pleasure, but more the reward of relief from intense psychological suffering.

Dr. Khantzian is Professor of Psychiatry, part time, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and President and Chairman, Board of Directors, Physician Health Services of the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham, Mass. He is in private practice and specializes in addiction psychiatry.


Heart failure tied to meth use rising among veterans, study finds

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

By Susan Scutti, CNN

Updated 1:33 PM ET, Tue November 14, 2017

Meth is chemically similar to the nervous system stimulant amphetamine. It is typically inhaled or smoked, swallowed, snorted or injected once dissolved in water or alcohol. More than 4.7% of Americans report trying this drug at least once, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.(CNN)Heart failure tied to use of methamphetamines is on the rise among US veterans, suggests a preliminary study presented Tuesday at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.

“Methamphetamine is an addictive drug, which could have a wide range of effects on patients’ physical and mental well-being,” said Dr. Marin Nishimura, the study author and internal medicine resident at the University of California, San Diego. “In addition to the heart, methamphetamine has been shown to have toxic effects on the brain.”

Thousands of veterans studied


Nishimura and her team became interested in meth-associated heart failure “because we noticed that we have been seeing increasing cases of this condition in the hospital where we practice.”

They reviewed the medical records of heart failure patients at San Diego VA Medical Center between 2005 and 2015 to see which had used meth. All told, the team looked at records for 9,588 patients and found 480 with a documented history of meth abuse.

“The proportion of patients that used methamphetamine was increasing from 2005 to 2015,” Nishimura said: from 1.7% of total heart patients at this facility in 2005 to 8% in 2015.

Patients in the two groups — users and non-users of meth — had striking differences, she said.

“Heart failure patients with methamphetamine abuse were younger, more likely to be homeless, unemployed and diagnosed with other substance-abuse and psychiatric conditions,” Nishimura said.

On average, the meth users with heart failure were 61 years old. This is considerably younger than the average age of non-meth-using heart failure patients at the facility: 72 years old. Meth users were also more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

In addition, meth users were less likely to have atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure — than non-meth users.

And, compared with non-using VA heart patients, those who used meth were less likely to have significant coronary artery disease yet tended to visit the ER more frequently.

Nishimura believes she and her colleagues need to address these issues to better take care of VA patients. “Furthermore, these differences may give us a clue as to when we should be screening for methamphetamine use when patients are newly diagnosed with heart failure,” she added.

Still, more research is needed, because the findings are based solely on a small number of veterans at a single medical center in San Diego, which means the study is too limited, she cautioned.

‘Vulnerable population’


Dr. Harshal Kirane, director of addiction services at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, said the new study “is yet another call to address the challenging needs of US veterans.” Kirane was not involved in the research.

“Methamphetamine use is associated with numerous well-established health consequences in essentially all systems of the body,” he said, adding that “methamphetamine-associated cardiomyopathy,” in which the heart muscle deteriorates as a result of meth use, is still only “partially understood.”

Slightly more than 5% of the heart failure hospitalizations in the US are attributable to stimulant use, he said.

Meanwhile, patterns of drug use continuously evolve, he noted, “as well as the potential for medical consequences from drug use.”

“Military veterans are an especially vulnerable population for developing mental health and substance use issues,” Kirane said.

He added that the new research “raises important questions” about why veterans may be using methamphetamine and what challenges they face in “accessing care for substance use disorders and general medical issues.”

“It also raises questions about the underlying biology of the heart that may make some individuals exquisitely vulnerable to developing heart failure from methamphetamine use,” he said.

The fact that potent illicit drugs can be manufactured from over-the-counter medications “has contributed to increased methamphetamine use in regions of the country less accessible to major drug trafficking pathways such as rural communities,” Kirane said.

Though it’s “unclear” why an increase in meth use has occurred among veterans, Nishimura agrees with Kirane’s basic assessment.

“What’s certainly contributing to the current popularity is likely due to the fact that it can be synthesized in small-scale laboratories,” she said. “And sold at relatively low street prices.”


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