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Ben Affleck calls addiction lifelong struggle

Ben Affleck calls addiction lifelong struggle

Oscar-winner Ben Affleck said he had completed a 40-day residential alcohol rehab programme but said that battling addiction “is a lifelong and difficult struggle.”

Affleck, 46, who also went to rehab in 2017 and 2001, said in a posting on his Instagram account that he remained in outpatient care, and thanked his family, friends and fans for their support.

“Battling any addiction is a lifelong and difficult struggle. Because of that one is never really in or out of treatment. It is a full time commitment. I am fighting for myself and my family,” he wrote.

Affleck has three children with actress Jennifer Garner. The couple separated in 2015 but in August Garner was pictured in Los Angeles driving Affleck to a treatment centre.

Affleck shot to fame in 1998 when he shared a screenplay Oscar for drama Goodwill Hunting with his best friend Matt Damon. In 2013, he took home a second Oscar for best picture winner Argo, which he produced and directed.

The Batman and Gone Girl star has often spoken of his struggles with alcohol, which also afflicted his father and his brother, actor Casey Affleck. Casey told TV show Entertainment Tonight last month that he and Ben come from a long line of alcoholics.

“Ben is an addict and an alcoholic. Most of my grandparents are alcoholics. My father is an alcoholic, as bad as you can be, and he’s been sober for about 30 years. I’ve been sober for about six years,” he said. – Reuters

There’s even more evidence that video games could be making children violent

There’s even more evidence that video games could be making children violent

Video games might make children more aggressive.

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Video games might make children more aggressive.
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Motortion Films / Shutterstock
  • A new analysis of 24 studies has shown how video games influence aggression in children.
  • Experts are still undecided on what impact playing games has on behaviour.
  • This study suggests violent video game play is associated with increased physical aggression.
  • But video games aren’t all bad.
  • In moderation, they can help with hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and can relieve stress.

There is a fair amount of debate about the impact video games have on children. One of the main arguments against allowing children to play them for too long is the idea they can become more aggressive as a result.

A new study, published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports this theory. Researchers at Dartmouth University examined the results of 24 studies between 2010 and 2017, including over 17,000 participants from nine to 19 years old.

Each study looked at how violent video games affected the children’s’ real-world behaviour, including their aggression, whether they hit people or had fights, or were sent to the principal’s office. The participants were followed from three months to four years.

The team concluded the “effects of violent video games extend to meaningful behaviors in the real world.” In other words, there was significant evidence from the analysis that video games can contribute to heightened aggressive behaviour.

Specifically, the results showed white participants had the strongest effect from video games. Hispanic children showed no significant effects, while Asian children fell somewhere in between.

“These findings support the general claim that violent video game play is associated with increases in physical aggression over time,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “We hope these findings will assist the field in moving past the question of whether violent video games increase aggressive behavior, and toward questions regarding why, when, and for whom they have such effects.”

According to the National Center for Health Research, research has shown that in the long term, video games can desensitise people to seeing aggressive behaviour, and even decrease someone’s ability to feel empathy.

“The longer that individuals are exposed to violent video games, the more likely they are to have aggressive behaviors, thoughts, and feelings,” the article reads. “Although males spend more time than females playing violent video games, violent video game exposure can increase aggressive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings in both sexes.”

Earlier this year, The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to its official list of mental health conditions. To be diagnosed with the disorder, a person needs to meet three criteria: loses control over their gaming habits, prioritises gaming over other daily activities, and continues playing games despite clear negative consequences.

However, experts are still undecided whether excessive gaming is a mental health problem in its own right, or a symptom of other struggles.

Despite the risks, gaming has been shown to have some positive impacts on people too. For instance, video games can relieve stress, improve problem-solving abilities, and improve hand-eye coordination.

Rather than condemning video games as a cause of antisocial behaviour, it could be a case of playing them in moderation – as is the case with many things people enjoy, from chocolate, to alcohol, to social media.

The FDA is cracking down on wildly popular e-cigarettes like Juul — and threatening to pull products from the market if teen use isn’t controlled

The FDA is cracking down on wildly popular e-cigarettes like Juul — and threatening to pull products from the market if teen use isn’t controlled

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Shutterstock
  • The FDA is taking steps to enforce and address the e-cigarette epidemic among minors.
  • The agency is giving the makers of some of the most prevalent vaping devices 60 days to show they are able to keep their products away from teens. If they can’t, the flavored products could be pulled from store shelves.
  • In 2017, more than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. The FDA is trying to initiate a public education campaign in order to learn more about e-cig products and their access and appeal to teens.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday that it is taking steps to crack down on the illegal sale of e-cigarette products – like the increasingly popular Juul – to minors.

The agency is giving makers of some of the most prevalent vaping devices 60 days to submit plans showing they can keep their products away from teens. If the manufacturers fail to submit plans that could halt the trend of e-cigarette use among kids, their flavored products could be pulled from store shelves.

As part of a nationwide enforcement effort this summer, the FDA issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who were found to have illegally sold products to teens.

The majority of these violations were doled out for the sale of five e-cigarette products to those under 18 – Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic. The agency also issued 12 warning letters to online retailers that are selling or advertising flavored vapor inserts for e-cigarettes in a way that might be misleading to kids, such as offering candy and cookie flavors. They also prohibited certain retailers who had violations from selling tobacco products for specific periods of time.

The FDA’s moves come as the booming e-cig company Juul has been flagged by doctors, researchers and non-profits for health risks and deceptive marketing to attract minors. Juul takes up nearly 71% of the entire e-cig market with its USB sized device that comes with single inserts containing the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. The company – valued at $15 billion – is growing more popular among teens and has even eyed an international expansion of its business.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in the press release that the “youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion.” In 2017, more than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes.

The FDA stated that although e-cigarettes can potentially help adult smokers move away from traditional cigarettes, that effort can’t come at the expense of a whole new generation becoming addicted to nicotine. It is working with Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to address the access and appeal of these products, and to launch a public education campaign.

“JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request,” a company spokesperson told Business Insider in an email statement. “Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes. Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission.”

The wildly popular e-cig startup Juul is valued at $15 billion, but it faces a growing backlash of lawsuits and investigations

The wildly popular e-cig startup Juul is valued at $15 billion, but it faces a growing backlash of lawsuits and investigations

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Pax Labs

For a slim device that looks like a USB stick, the Juul e-cig packs a powerful punch. Each refillable insert contains twice the nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

American vapers have embraced the device: The Juul now represents nearly 71% of the entire e-cig market. Last month, sales of the devices surged 738%.

But despite the ballooning popularity of its vapes, Juul Labs – a Silicon Valley startup recently valued at $15 billion – is facing a growing backlash.

Several state and federal investigations and a handful of consumer lawsuits highlight concerns about the Juul’s health effects and its worrisome popularity among teens. The Massachusetts Attorney General is investigating whether Juul violated state consumer-protection laws by failing to keep minors from buying its products, and the Food and Drug Administration recently cracked down on sales of the Juul to minors.

On top of those concerns, the city of San Francisco recently banned flavored tobacco products like the Juul, a move public-health researchers and leading philanthropists like Michael Bloomberg have said they hope other cities follow.

A startup that’s booming

juul e-cigarette

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JUUL Labs

Behind the unassuming, aging brick facade of a shipping warehouse in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, Juul Labs is growing exponentially. Its five floors are packed with employees. Staff crowd the halls, spill onto balconies for meetings, and squat on the building’s sweaty top floor.

Juul’s US staff has tripled in the last six months, and more growth is coming. Juul has plans to open offices in 19 more locations across the country, including big cities like Boston and Chicago and smaller ones like Des Moines, Iowa and Manchester, New Hampshire. The company is expanding internationally, too. After launching in London earlier this month, Juul has plans to expand to three more countries.

The company has the money to do it. After scoring a $15 billion valuation that puts Juul in the ranks of startups like Pinterest, Lyft, and Snap Inc., Juul Labs raised $650,000 within just two days.

But as Juul has grown, government groups, nonprofits, and public-health experts have started sounding alarms, calling out the Juul for being addictive and uniquely appealing to teens.

Teen ‘Juuling’ could be the ‘genie you can’t put back in the bottle’

woman vaping vape e-cig

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Shutterstock

The first signs of trouble came from high school bathrooms. In small groups, students began gathering to “Juul” (the verb the product has spawned) under clouds of creme-brulee-scented vapor. Some carried the devices into class, where they’d sneak pulls from Juuls hidden inside the bodies of emptied Sharpie pens.

Worried teachers brought their concerns to principals, who called on public-health researchers to visit campuses and discuss the risks of nicotine.

Then some of those teachers looked at YouTube, and found the platform was full of videos made by teens showing themselves sneaking Juuls into class and vaping on the sly – sometimes even in front of teachers.

Using hashtags like #JuulGang and #VapeNation, teens boasted on social media about the number of devices they could use at once. Some appeared to be linked to viral hashtags that Juul Labs had used in a 2015 advertising campaign when its device launched.

Juul maintains that it does not want teens to use its devices and claims its products are designed solely for adult smokers looking to transition to less harmful devices. The company has also said that sales of its devices did not take off until at least two years after the 2015 campaign was launched.

“Juul is a company that was started by smokers with an objective to switch smokers to non-combustible products,” Ashley Gould, Juul’s chief administrative officer, told Business Insider in March.

A Juul Labs spokesperson also told Business Insider that the company has been working with social media platforms to remove Juul-related content that involves young people, and has deleted more than 4,000 vape-related posts from Instagram and Facebook collectively.

But experts say these moves have come too late.

“This is really the genie you can’t put back in the bottle,” Matthew Myers, the president of the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told Business Insider.

Snowballing evidence of vaping’s health risks

marijuana vaporizer vaping vape

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Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Alarmed by the prevalence of e-cigs, researchers have increasingly started studying the health impacts of vaping. So far, evidence suggests that although inhaling vapor is healthier than breathing in burned tobacco, e-cigs come with their own health concerns.

Chief among those issues is e-cigs’ high concentration of nicotine. This may be part of the reason why teens who vape are seven times more likely to smoke regular cigarettes than young people who never use e-cigs.

Ana Rule, a professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University, said the makers of these devices fail to address “the increased risk to this huge market they are creating among teenagers and young adults that never have smoked, and would have never even considered smoking” had they not vaped.

Researchers are also not convinced that e-cigs actually help adult smokers quit. So far, the evidence suggests they don’t. In January, a study in the journal The Lancet found that e-cigs were linked with “significantly less quitting” among smokers. Several months later, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that e-cig users were less likely than non-vapers to abstain from tobacco use over six months. And a study published in the journal PLOS One this month found no evidence that vaping helped adult smokers quit.

“E-cigarettes are widely promoted as a smoking cessation aid but for some, they actually make it harder to quit, so most people end up doing both,” Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF, told Business Insider.

Nicholas Chadi, a clinical pediatrics fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, spoke about the Juul at the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s annual conference in April.

“After only a few months of using nicotine, [these teens] describe cravings, sometimes intense ones. Sometimes they also lose their hopes of being able to quit,” Chadi said.

For these reasons, several nonprofit anti-tobacco agencies have come out in recent months in strong opposition to the Juul, including the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the California Department of Public Health.

Mounting legal and ethical challenges

juul e-cig vape pen california prop e poster

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California Department of Public Health

These scientific findings are being used in a snowballing number of legal and regulatory challenges against Juul.

In April, the FDA launched an investigation into Juul’s marketing practices to see if the company targeted teens.

In a letter to the company, the agency wrote: “Widespread reports of youth use of Juul products are of great public health concern and no child or teenager should ever use any tobacco product. Juul products may have features that make them more appealing to kids and easier to use, thus causing increased initiation and/or use among youth.”

Since April, Juul consumers have also filed several lawsuits against the company – most of them on behalf of teens – for what they allege are deceptive marketing practices that didn’t clearly outline how addictive nicotine is.

Then in June, voters in San Francisco approved a ban on flavored tobacco products that includes Juul cartridges, called Juul Pods.

“Most scientists believe flavorings are used to target teenagers into becoming users,” Rule told Business Insider. “There are of course many other factors such as marketing and peer-pressure, but when you look at the flavoring names, one has to wonder.”

San Francisco has led the nation with similar types of initiatives in the past, such as its 2007 ban on plastic bags, which went statewide in 2014 and has since been copied in 13 other US cities.

Finally, just this week, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched a probe to find out whether Juul had marketed its products directly to young people in a way that could violate consumer protections in the state.

“Just when teen cigarette use has hit a record low, Juuling and vaping have become an epidemic in our schools with products that seem targeted to get young people hooked on nicotine,” Healey said in a statement. “I am investigating Juul … to keep these highly addictive products out of the hands of children.”

Juul’s rapid fundraising suggests that many investors aren’t deterred by these challenges, but others have said they’re leery for ethical reasons.

“Selling drug addiction with unknown causes isn’t something I want to be associated with,” Villi Iltchev, a partner with San Francisco-based investment firm August Capital, told Business Insider.

Villi said he used to smoke, but quit five years ago.

“Would I have switched from smoking to the Juul? Hell yes,” he said. “But in terms of kids, they’re starting from scratch. Being addicted as a teen, your probability of quitting is so low. It’s part of you.”

If you’re a Juul or Pax employee with a story to share, email this reporter at ebrodwin@businessinsider.com.

A facility giving marijuana to people with addiction has had a major shakeup after it felt ‘like walking into a cloud of smoke’

A facility giving marijuana to people with addiction has had a major shakeup after it felt ‘like walking into a cloud of smoke’

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Shutterstock

The treatment was unconventional. People addicted to everything from alcohol to opioids were given the option of using marijuana to help deal with withdrawal symptoms from their former drugs of choice. But nearly a year after the facility, a Los Angeles-based rehab center known as High Sobriety, opened its doors, a consultant to the operation started to notice problems.

“It was like walking into a cloud of smoke,” Sherry Yafai, the facility’s new clinical director, told Business Insider. That’s no longer the case, according to Yafai, who took on a leadership role at the facility roughly a year after it opened and made some major changes to its treatment protocol.

Her changes hint at a tough reality about the use of cannabis as medicine. Although marijuana is being increasingly recognized for its potential health benefits, using (and dispensing) it remains an inexact science that can be further complicated by stigma and misunderstandings about drug use.

Created by Joe Schrank, a trained social worker from New York, High Sobriety was founded as an alternative to the traditional abstinence-based rehab model, which Schrank says is heavy on spirituality and religion but low on science and compassion.

“Abstinence-only drug education is about as effective as abstinence-only sex education,” Schrank told Business Insider.

Schrank ran High Sobriety in Los Angeles for a little over a year before he decided to leave after an internal dispute broke out. He’s currently based in San Francisco, where he is operating a new rehab facility based on the old High Sobriety model – if you want to use marijuana, you can.

“I like to remove anything someone’s going to potentially hurt themselves with. That’s why I’m a weed advocate,” Schrank said.

Yafai also believes that cannabis has a place in addiction treatment, but she disagrees on the details of how and when it is dispensed to patients.

‘When you’re dealing with life and death, you can’t get that concept across when they’re high’

marijuana weed pot cannabis smoke smoker

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iStock

Since Schrank’s departure, Yafai has made major changes to High Sobriety.

Smokeable marijuana is no longer allowed on the premises. Instead, patients may be given cannabis oils, creams, or edibles – but they are not allowed to carry them or take them home.

Cannabis products are dispensed “just like any other medication,” said Yafai, citing the examples of methadone and buprenorphine, which are generally given to patients addicted to opioids at a specific time of day. Also, all High Sobriety patients must go through 30 days of detox without cannabis.

“The way we try and medicate patients is so they’re not high all day,” Yafai said. “I want people to function.”

After 30 days of sobriety, patients meet with Yafai, who decides what type and dose of cannabis-based product could help them. She might recommend using a cream made with CBD (the non-psychoactive component of marijuana) for pain, or she might recommend a THC-based edible at night for sleep.

These changes are designed to address some of the problems that Yafai said she saw at the facility when she was working as a consultant.

When she’d walk onto the facility grounds, for example, she’d see smoke everywhere and find patients who were “high for the majority of the day.” As a result, patients were not addressing the underlying issues that may have brought them to High Sobriety in the first place, such as depression or other forms of mental illness.

“I found a group of individuals who were not able to engage in a conversation and were just actively smoking in front of me. I don’t think that’s appropriate. When you’re dealing with life and death with a group of 20-year-olds, you can’t get that concept across or expect them to deal with anything – let alone remember anything – when they’re high.”

Now, she believes her patients are more engaged in the various components of therapy offered at High Sobriety, whether it’s mutual help meetings like those offered by Alcoholics Anonymous or individual work with a psychologist to address issues like anxiety and PTSD. Cannabis plays a complementary role in those aspects of recovery, said Yafai.

“I can teach patients how to use cannabis so that when you leave High Sobriety, you can walk into a facility where you can pick a product that helps you address your issues,” Yafai said.

From High Sobriety in LA to Remedy Recovery in SF

A room at High Sobriety in Los Angeles.

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A room at High Sobriety in Los Angeles.
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High Sobriety for Business Insider

Schrank maintains that if people want to use marijuana, they should be free to use as much as they need.

“People lead productive lives with cannabis,” Schrank said. “And the truth is this stuff is probably safer than Doritos.”

Schrank’s new facility, called Remedy Recovery, is headquartered at a loft space in San Francisco’s China Basin neighborhood, which he envisions eventually being used as a community space. Schrank and a new a team of social workers – plus a new Remedy Recovery CEO who also has his own private equity firm – currently oversee six patients in an apartment complex nearby.

He hopes the new center will operate similar to the way High Sobriety once did. But he said doctors will play a prominent role.

“If the doctor’s counsel with cannabis, whether it’s smokeable or edible or whatever, is ‘OK, take this much,’ we’ll say, ‘Thank you doctor, we’ll follow your counsel.”

Yafai, who calls herself a cannabis clinician and is a member of a nonprofit called the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, said that wasn’t happening enough at High Sobriety before.

“There wasn’t another PhD on board giving cannabis medications,” she said.

Having a physician on board to dispense marijuana and make product recommendations could be vital for recovery centers looking to incorporate cannabis into their models. Several studies suggest that marijuana could play an important role in treating pain and helping people recover from addiction to other drugs like nicotine and opioids, but none have yet tested out High Sobriety’s model.

In contrast, thousands of rehab facilities across the US operate using abstinence-only approaches such as the ones outlined in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with scant peer-reviewed research behind them.

Yafai said she’s been “thrilled” with the changes she’s seen in her patients at High Sobriety over the past few months. But she also worries that other facilities may try to emulate the High Sobriety model without enough scientific guidance.

“I think other places will try to do this, but without the guidance of a cannabis clinician they will fail,” Yafai said.

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