Denzel Washington plays troubled pilot in ‘Flight’

Denzel Washington arrives to the LA Premiere of

Photo credit: AP | Denzel Washington arrives to the LA Premiere of “Flight” at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles. (Oct. 23, 2012)

The crash of SouthJet flight 227 bound from Orlando to Atlanta isn’t the scariest thing in the drama “Flight,” director Robert Zemeckis‘ first live-action film since 2000’s “Cast Away” — which featured a pretty harrowing plane crash itself. The scariest thing is that the boozing, cocaine-using, utterly self-righteous pilot at the heart of the movie, opening Friday, feels perfectly comfortable with FWI — flying while intoxicated.

“It wasn’t his drunkenness that caused this to happen,” Zemeckis says by phone from Los Angeles — “this” being the storm and the mechanical failure that forces Denzel Washington’s Capt. “Whip” Whitaker to ditch in a field, using a daredevil maneuver that saves all but six on the doomed flight. “His drunkenness may well have saved everybody,” the director says. “You know, he was loose — which is one of those wonderful ambiguities that made me love the screenplay.”

Co-star John Goodman — who knows something about alcoholism and says with humble pride that his own “is something I came to terms with five years ago, and with daily grace I’m still sober” — isn’t so sure. “Whip also might not have taken off in that storm” had the captain not been drinking and snorting cocaine that morning, clouding his judgment, and it may have been the storm’s turbulence and lightning that caused the malfunction. “I don’t know and I may not be quoting the party line here,” says Goodman, also calling from Los Angeles, “but that’s what it looked like to me: He didn’t have to take off.”

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Top 10 Biggest Drug Busts

Since the War on Drugs started in the early ’70s, the US has spent more each year to wage it. All the while, the cartels get bigger (and smarter) and the biggest busts have shrunk. Does this mean the War is unwinnable?

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Naloxone: Drug-Overdose Antidote Is Put In Addicts’ Hands


Kathy Deady holds up a tube of Naloxone Hydrochloride, also known as Narcan, in her Quincy, Mass., home. Narcan is a nasal spray used as an antidote for opiate drug overdoses. Deady twice had to use the drug on her son, who was suffering from an overdose of heroin. The drug counteracts the effects of heroin, OxyContin and other powerful painkillers and has been routinely used by ambulance crews and emergency rooms in the U.S. and other countries for decades.



WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — Steve Wohlen lay on his front lawn, blue, unconscious and barely breathing, overdosing on heroin.

His mother ran outside, frantically assembling a pen-like canister. Her heart pounding, she dropped to her knees and used the device to deliver two squirts up her son’s nostrils.

Within minutes, his eyes opened, color returned to his face, and he sat up – brought back from a potentially lethal overdose by a drug commonly known by its old brand name, Narcan.

The drug, widely sold under its generic name, naloxone, counteracts the effects of heroin, OxyContin and other powerful painkillers and has been routinely used by ambulance crews and emergency rooms in the U.S. for decades. But in the past few years, public health officials across the nation have been distributing it free to addicts and their loved ones, as well as to some police and firefighters.

Such giveaways may have saved more than 10,000 lives since the first program was started in 1996 in Chicago, according to a survey by the Harm Reduction Coalition, a national group that works to reduce the consequences of drug use.

Opponents say that making the antidote so easily available is an accommodation to drug use that could make addicts less likely to seek treatment. The objections are not unlike those raised decades ago when addicts were first issued clean needles to curb the spread of AIDS. But Wohlen and his mother see things differently.

“I just didn’t want to be that mother standing next to that casket,” Linda Wohlen said.


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The Roller Coaster Relationship


The Roller Coaster Relationship With An Alcoholic/Addict: When Do You Get Off the Ride?


Not soon enough and never! Relationships are difficult; whether it is the ongoing give and take of two people sharing their lives, understanding and communicating with our children or just getting along with co-workers and friends. Add to the mix a silent partner like drugs or alcohol, and the difficulty factor increases substantially.

So what or where or when is our breaking point? For everyone it’s different.
Often guilt, shame, pity, fears of being alone or just plain laziness keeps us in relationships that we know are toxic; whether it is with an alcoholic/addict or not. We find ourselves exhausted at the end of the day from just doing our jobs, getting the kids to school or whatever life is throwing at us. Often, we just don’t have the strength or energy to confront our partner or make waves if we witness their unstable or irresponsible behavior due to substance abuse. We have become numb to this kind of relationship and therefore have settled by bumping along the bottom holding on to an eyelash width of hope that maybe tomorrow will be different; either they will change or we might find the strength to change these circumstances ourselves.


I have compiled what I call The Pyramid of Change; 6 phases of the alcoholic/addict from the beginnings of irresponsible behavior to full blown wreckage. I will discuss 2 this week and 4 on my next blog.

Do you find yourself in phase 1 or 2…or way beyond?


Phase 1 – Regardless of what stage you are in a relationship, or whether you’ve started to become aware of your child’s unfamiliar behavioral patterns, something tells you that things are just not right. You are beginning to witness little, almost insignificant spikes of illogical behavior that you accept as mood swings, simple frustrations regarding work, school or just daily occurrences. It’s no big deal, a passing interruption in what you are used to as a normal, stable life. You might mention something now and then about their behavior being a bit odd, but are easily appeased with their answer and things usually get back to normal…for a time.


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Worrying Trends Confronted in Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription drugs, prescription drug abuse


Physicians struggle to curb the growing number of lethal overdoses

The two young men who showed up retching and wild-eyed in an emergency room in Portland, Ore., last summer insisted they had swallowed nothing but an ordinary soft drink before one collapsed. Yet their odd coloring suggested otherwise. Fifteen minutes after they had downed the drink, their lips and skin turned a startling blue. Their blood was as dark as chocolate.

Eventually one of the men confessed: they had spiked their soda with a bitter liquid they bought online. They meant to order “2C-E,” a man-made hallucinogen that they heard was similar to Ecstasy or LSD. What they received instead from a chemical company in China was aniline, an industrial solvent that ruptured their red blood cells, starved their tissues for oxygen and nearly killed them. Whether the substitution was their mistake or the company’s, no one knew. “For quite a while after they got to the ER,” says Zane Horowitz, medical director of the Oregon Poison Center, “we didn’t know what exactly they had taken, and neither did they.”

Horowitz and other toxicologists say the range of legal and illegal drugs now available to anyone with a credit card or well-stocked family medicine chest is broader and, in some ways, more dangerous than ever before. Bored teens seeking the latest high are only part of the problem. Patients who double down on long-acting prescription narcotics or mix some medicines with one another or with alcohol are vulnerable, too. The escalating death toll from drug use in the U.S. is startling, as a recent overview from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed. Accidental poisoning has now replaced car crashes as the nation’s leading cause of fatal injury, and 89 percent of those poisonings result from drugs.

The magnitude of the problem has legislators, doctors and public health experts searching for solutions. Last July, President Barack Obama signed into law the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, nationally outlawing the manufacture, sale and possession of 2C-E and 25 other “designer” recreational drugs. To try to rein in prescription drug abuse, at least 49 states have authorized funding for electronic databases that ultimately aim to identify physicians who overprescribe narcotics, as well as addicts who “doctor shop” to load up on pain relievers or stimulants.

Meanwhile medical toxicologists have surprising advice for emergency room teams treating overdoses: rely less on standard blood and urine tests when trying to identify drugs of abuse because those lab tests can be grossly misleading. Instead, these medical sleuths say, asking sharper questions will likely save more patients.

New Narcotics

Despite the recent increase in deaths from designer drugs—recreational compounds that are chemically tweaked to stay ahead of the law—a less exotic threat accounts for the most common type of drug poisoning. In the most recent analysis of all overdose deaths in the U.S., more than 40 percent involved prescription narcotics. Sales of these strong painkillers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, have climbed, too, jumping by 300 percent between 1998 and 2008, according to the CDC, as doctors have prioritized alleviating the severe pain of cancer, surgery and serious injury.

In the past decade research has firmly demonstrated that a short course of prescription narcotics can safely reduce suffering. But the abuse of these potentially addictive drugs, alone or in combination, is particularly deadly. A 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association profiled the problem in West Virginia: 56 percent of 275 people who overdosed on prescription narcotics had not been prescribed the medication that killed them. Another 21 percent had received prescriptions for narcotics from five or more doctors in the year before they died, a pattern that suggests they had doctor shopped to obtain more pills than any one physician would supply. National statistics underscore the risk: legal narcotics now kill more people every year than heroin and cocaine combined.

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Rehab’s Tough Guy

Rehab’s Tough Guy

For the sixth season, Will Smith is keeping Dr. Drew’s patients in line. But his own life story is far wilder than anything you’ve seen on TV.

By McCarton Ackerman


Most people know Will Smith as the imposing resident technician on Celebrity Rehab—a subdued, if firm, presence to balance out the relative hysteria of the women on staff. But for all his seeming serenity, Smith’s former life could put a lot of the former Rehab residents’ better-publicized exploits to shame. A former stuntman who worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, Smith’s career suffered a head-on collision when he began using cocaine at the age of 17. He ended up working for a drug cartel for the better part of 20 years, running the South America leg of the business.

Thirty convictions later, Smith found himself in front of a judge facing a 15-year prison stint. When he was sentenced to county jail and mandatory rehab instead, Smith made good on his final chance and has now been sober for well over eight years. Now roughly halfway through the first non-celebrity season of Rehab, Smith spoke to The Fix about growing up a Hollywood kid, nearly killing a woman by accident and his first days of looking for work after prison.


Was it easier to work with a group of people who aren’t celebrities or do the same issues come up?

They all have the same issues. Some of the celebrities on the previous shows were narcissistic or self-entitled because of the level of fame they once had. But more than half of them were completely humbled and knocked to their knees by the disease. And they realized the show was a chance to prove to producers and directors around town that they were doing something to correct their past.

This cast is a very young and diverse group. You don’t find two people with similar backgrounds: there’s everyone from a rapper who grew up around gangs and prostitution to a detective’s son who grew up middle class. We have a guy who was going to go to the Olympics for martial arts and lost everything because of his opiate use in just a couple of years. But these kids hit the lottery when they got the call to appear on the show because they were financially strapped and couldn’t have afforded treatment without this.

I don’t know of any other rehab that puts in more effort than we do. VH1 truly cares about the people who are on this show.

Who are some of your favorite cast members from previous seasons?

Most of the people that came through were a pleasure to work with. Mackenzie Phillips has a heart of gold and it was an honor to meet her. Jennie Ketcham had an incredible amount of self-belief. Brigitte Nielsen was a very classy lady. Jeff Conaway reminded me of my dad [cult 60’s-70’s actor William Smith Sr.]’s friends and had that same show business sense of humor I grew up with. And I would be in awe of some of the big athletes, like Dennis Rodman, that came through.


Especially with the recent deaths of Joey Kovar and Rodney King, many people feel that Celebrity Rehab was exploitative and manipulative towards its cast members. What are your thoughts on that backlash?

It’s not exploitative or manipulative. Obviously the editors picked the best hours of all the footage and of course there are going to be fights or someone pacing in a circle and smoking cigarettes. But there’s nothing that the producers did to instigate controversy.

The other thing people need to realize is that while the treatment the cast members get is a very condensed rehab, I don’t know of any other rehab that puts in more effort than we do. VH1 truly cares about the people who are on this show. It’s not just 21 days of getting their faces out there and then they’re on a plane home. We make sure the cast members don’t have tendencies to harm themselves or others before going on the show and if they do, the network pays for them to get treatment to address that off-camera. Dr. Drew and Dr. Sharp implemented an incredible treatment plan and six-month aftercare plan that VH1 pays for. Sober Living, therapists, whatever they need, VH1 foots the bill. But we can’t control what people choose to do with that opportunity.


Speaking of opportunities, you had a number of them growing up in the entertainment world.

Yes. My father started working in London with Nigel Patrick on Zero One and Asphalt Jungle, and then did a bunch of other shows. He was even offered the role of Tarzan in 1967: they offered him $1 million to do the show for one year in Africa but he turned it down because his agent didn’t want him characterized as Tarzan since it might mean not getting any serious roles. And I’ve done a lot of TV as well and worked as a stuntman for a bunch of movies. When I was 11, I played a young Evil Knievel alongside George Hamilton.


When did you first get into drugs?

I got into a motorcycle accident when I was 17 and while my leg was trying to heal, I did my first line of cocaine. All of my stunt idols and people in the industry were offering it to me. I started drinking heavily shortly after that and was immediately getting into fights at bars. But I’m not blaming the people who gave me drugs for my addiction. If it weren’t for them, I would have found some other way to get a hold of it.


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