By Cheryl Steinberg
One of the decade’s biggest hits Sons of Anarchy is created and written by Kurt Sutter, an ex food- and drug- addict.
Kurt Sutter, the visionary who has given us the ultraviolent, superbloody motorcycle psychodrama and mega FX hit, is no stranger to pain and drama. Overseeing everything that has anything to do with the show, Sutter doesn’t just write the scenes and dialogue. He’s ‘at the office’ every day discussing with his creative team how each scene will play out – the camera shots and angles and how to make sure each bloody, gory scene is authentic and realistic.
Sons is the biggest hit in the history of the network, averaging 2.6 million viewers an episode in its first season (2008), jumping to 4.5 million its second year, and this fall 10.6 million people watched the premiere of Season Seven.
Before Sons, Sutter was a writer on FX’s The Shield, a Golden Globe-winning series about corrupt L.A. cops, a position he held from 2001 to 2008. Sutter climbed his way through the ranks to an executive producer, but before that he was nobody. A typical day in the life of Kurt Sutter involved churning out spec scripts and attending AA meetings.
And that was about it. Until Shawn Ryan, the show runner of The Shield, called him in for a meeting based on a West Wing spec and quickly snatched him up. Their meeting actually consisted more of Sutter’s past troubles with alcohol and drug addiction than anything else and Ryan quickly realized that the now-sober Sutter could bring “a really fantastic perspective” to his show.
“He became a very, very valuable member of the team,” says Ryan, “though he was definitely not the most beloved member. He wasn’t always the nicest to people in the writers’ room.”
Ryan also added, “There are two Kurt Sutters. There’s the outlaw rebel he likes the world to see, and there’s a more sensitive, thoughtful Kurt. It’s not that the rebel is an act. It’s more like a wish-fulfillment deviation and way to mask the pain from what he was as a kid and a young adult.”
As a kid, Sutter spent most of his time isolating in the basement of his childhood home. His dad was a General Motors executive and was basically emotionally-distant. His mother became a full-blown alcoholic by the time he was 13, and he had two older sisters who weren’t really in the picture.
Sutter says that he started eating obsessively around the time his mother started drinking. “She was my only friend, and when she checked out…I started to eat. Food was my first drug of choice. By the time I was a teenager, I weighed 400 pounds. I didn’t really have a girlfriend.”
“I was very much isolated,” he adds. “My dad was disappointed in me, because I was obese and he was a sports guy. As a result, I spent a lot of time in that basement. I could go down there and escape and be whatever I wanted to be. I had a huge fantasy life. It always involved vengeance. I was really angry, which I coupled with rage and fear, all of which somehow plugged into my imagination.”
After high school – Sutter graduated in 1978 – his eating addiction was still in full swing but he started adding alcohol to the mix. He studied mass media and English at Rutgers, and added exercise and cocaine to his bag of tricks. For the first time, Sutter says he gained some perspective: “I’ve been self-medicating since I came out of the f*cking womb,” he says. “But at a certain point, I realized I’m never gonna get f*cking laid at 400 pounds, and that’s when I flipped the switch on the food addiction and swapped it out. I got down to literally half my size in less than a year. Yeah. I halved my body size and doubled my insanity.”
When Sons began, Sutter, then 40, was sober for nearly a decade. After two years of doing the grunt work, Ryan snagged him and the rest is history; Sutter has finally become just what he was meant to be all along.
“He’s a rock-star show-runner,” says FX president John Landgraf, fondly. “I really love Kurt. We’ve had our big blow-out fights, but he doesn’t go around unconsciously scorching the earth. He’s extremely self-aware and willing to expose the more primitive and unsavory side of his personality. He’s an artist. He’s a provocateur. He’s one of the most entertaining characters there is.”
Recovery from addiction to drugs, alcohol, food – whatever – is possible. And recovery can bring with it so many gifts. What many people don’t realize is that life is livable without substances and that a life of sobriety doesn’t mean just not using. You can finally find your passion(s) and follow through with your goals and dreams. So many successful and even famous people are also in lifelong recovery from drugs and alcohol. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to find out how you can turn your life around today.
Author: Justin Mckibben
First off, the title of this article probably catches a few people’s attention simply for the fact that it refers to alcohol as a drug, and even more so because it implies energy drinks are a drug. Well anyone out there mixing cherry-bombs with vodka and red-bull has a rude awakening coming. First let us clear up the opinions and misconceptions with exact definitions. From there, let us look at information from recent studies and surveys, and see why it is that energy drinks and alcohol are such a deadly drug combination.
Drug- in the broadest terms a drug is a chemical substance that has known biological effects on humans or other animals.
Recreational drugs- chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opioids or hallucinogens. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are the most widely consumed psychotropic drugs worldwide.
So right away by definition we are able to determine that alcohol is a drug because of the way it affects the biology and the central nervous system of the consumer. The same definition can also be applied to caffeine, which is the most commonly active ingredient in energy drinks. So while this article is not intended to argue that drinking energy drinks constitutes substance abuse, it is necessary to at least take into consideration the reality of what an energy drink is to the body.
Variables of the Survey
In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan concluded that when mixing alcohol and energy drinks together, there are serious public health risks that can result from ingesting this mix. This research has proven to be relevant especially among college students.
This study was done using information from the University Life Study that took place at Penn State University. Starting with the first semester of college, 744 students completed surveys for each of seven semesters, plus daily surveys. Data on alcohol and energy drink use was available from spring of the students’ sophomore year in 2009 to fall of their senior year of 2010. Through this extensive period there was a lot of information to determine particular patterns.
Students were asked about energy drink consumption both with and without alcohol. This also included the number of alcoholic drinks they drank the day before, what time they started drinking, when they stopped and if they got drunk.
The researchers also used gender, body weight and length of drinking time to calculate blood alcohol levels. The other negative consequences of alcohol use with energy drinks were determined by yes or no responses to each of 10 negative consequences, including such things as having a hangover or getting into other kinds of trouble.
Recent Study Conclusions
Megan Patrick, who is the co-author of the study and a research assistant professor, had a detailed contribution to the study’s conclusion and stated,
“We found that college students tended to drink more heavily, become more intoxicated, and have more negative drinking consequences on days they used both energy drinks and alcohol, compared to days they only used alcohol.”
The study also concluded that students who either drank alcohol and energy drinks on the same day, or students who combined the two at the same time, wound up spending more time drinking. With this prolong period of drinking, the individuals were consuming more alcohol than they would have without the caffeinated drinks. This extended time spent drinking resulted in the users’ blood alcohol levels to be raised to much higher peaks. But even more concerning is the fact that because of the stimulant effects of the energy drinks, the users reported that they felt less drunk than they actually were.
“This can have serious potential health impacts, for example if people don’t realize how intoxicated they actually are and decide to drive home,” Patrick said.
So it appears through this information that the consumption of caffeinated energy drinks or even caffeinated alcoholic beverages, such as the FDA banned Four Loko, can have a direct effect on increasing risks to an individual by masking their intoxication and making it easier for them to consume more alcohol or partake in risky behavior.
Part of what makes mixing alcohol and energy drinks such a deadly drug combo is that the energy drink makes it so the individual can continue to consume alcohol at deadly rates without feeling the full effect because of its ability to counter-act the depressant nature of alcohol by stimulating the user with caffeine. So the risk for alcohol poisoning is only increased as the individual consumes more and more alcohol while keeping themselves going. This also leads into the other hazardous behaviors by making a person more mobile while still more intoxicated.
Someone drinking energy drinks and alcohol together can take more unsafe actions with or without realizing it, and ultimately put even more people in harm’s way. This deadly drug combo can create so many negative consequences, and in the end it can all be avoided if people are aware of the truth of what they do to their bodies, and of the possibility of recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
Being less of an alcohol fan and more a certified pothead (in my using days, that is), I was always annoyed by the people who would go around saying that marijuana is a gateway drug; that it leads to “harder” drugs. First of all, like me, most kids and teens who do experiment with substances try alcohol before they do anything else. So, why don’t people go around calling alcohol a gateway drug? Oh right, it’s legal…and socially acceptable.
Did you know that alcohol is one of the three deadliest – and legal – drugs? Marijuana’s death toll, on the other hand is zero. A bit fat zero. Now, I don’t advocate smoking weed for those of us in recovery but, I think there can be a lot of medicinal value to marijuana and, besides, I think it’s about time the rest of the world stops vilifying pot and starts accepting that their beloved booze is actually quite dangerous. In fact, it’s poison in the blood stream.
Do you know how alcohol works – the reason why people under the influence of it slur their words and have difficulty with coordination? In a nutshell, when you drink (a lot of) alcohol, your brain thinks that you’re dying. Therefore, it starts shutting down all non-essential processes, such as speak and coordination, allowing for only the important stuff – like breathing – to keep you alive. Sounds like a good time, right?
On the other hand, you have marijuana, known as cannabis to the rest of the world. This plant has lots of potential when it comes to improving quality of life. Only until recently, however, have we even been able to begin to research marijuana’s medicinal qualities. In the U.S., marijuana has long been a Schedule I drug, categorizing it as having a high potential for abuse and having no known medical qualities.
No Folks, Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug
And there’s more evidence that marijuana does not lead to the use of harder drugs. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, marijuana use might not be as dangerous as some critics have been claiming.
Emory University researchers, in a new study, looked at federal surveys and states that legalized medical marijuana in order to evaluate the impact of this new legal status on the use of other drugs. Researchers found that the legalization of medical marijuana legalization did lead to more drug use – that of more marijuana (trolled ya!) They specifically looked at adults 21 and older and saw that this population’s use of marijuana increased after the new legislation BUT, this increase did NOT lead people to try harder drugs.
The study had two major findings:
- Before the legalization of medical marijuana, 11.1% of adults 21 and older reported using marijuana in the past month; after legalization, that rose to 14.2%. But, it seems, medical marijuana legalization had no effect on children and adults aged 12 to 20.
- There was also no significant increase in alcohol abuse and dependency, cocaine use, or heroin use after medical marijuana legalization, even though marijuana use increased for adults.
This most recent study revealed findings that mostly support previous research about marijuana use. A 2012 study from research institute IZA found that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use did not lead to higher rates of marijuana use among high school students. Another report from Glenn Greenwald found drug use among Portuguese adults 20-24 increased following the decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal, while overall drug use actually fell among teenagers.
The study offers some food for thought where it comes to states that are considering whether to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. For one, it suggests relaxed marijuana laws can lead to more regular marijuana use, although not among teenagers. But the study also indicates that marijuana use might not be as dangerous as some critics of the drug fear.
If you’re like me, a drug is a drug is a drug – no matter its legal status. In the past, I used to think that marijuana was harmless but, more and more people are seeking treatment in the form of drug rehab for their marijuana use, alone. If you struggle with marijuana or any other drug, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist.
By Cheryl Steinberg
In case you didn’t know, the legalization of certain drugs and the prohibition of others rarely has to do with actual science. So, for example alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs are all legal. They are also the deadliest drugs in America, contributing to more health risks and deaths than illicit drugs are associated with.
One major contributing factor of total tobacco and alcohol deaths is that both substances are legal and easily available. As a result, they are also socially-acceptable to use.
What about marijuana? Up until recently, it was illegal.
Marijuana: A Brief History Lesson
The country is polarized when it comes to the legalization of marijuana, whether it be for medical purposes only or for recreational use. Marijuana has long been vilified in the media by newspaper men such as William Randolph Hearst, whose wild and sensational ‘old wives tales’ of the “Devil’s Weed” were spread via main news sources of the time (newspapers) in a large-scale smear campaign.
You see, Hearst was ‘in bed’ – as it were – with the Dupont Brothers who had recently patented the wood-pulping machine. This meant that paper was to become the go-to for printing newspapers. At that time, though, hemp was being considered – by the American government’s Agriculture Department – as the “Billion Dollar Crop of the Future.” If hemp, instead of trees, was to be grown and cultivated, that would make the Duponts’ invention obsolete.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
If you didn’t know, marijuana and hemp go hand-in-hand. Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L. Hemp is the cannabis stalk and seeds that are used for textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials; it doesn’t contain the psychoactive drug THC that marijuana does. Thus, ‘marijuana’ refers to the cannabis flowers, or buds, that are used for medicinal and recreational purposes.
The Three Deadliest Drugs Just So Happen to Be Legal
As the US debates drug policy and marijuana legalization, there’s one aspect of the war on drugs that remains perplexingly contradictory: some of the most dangerous drugs in the US are perfectly legal.
If you don’t believe me, just take a gander at this chart, compiled with available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Alcohol: One of the three deadliest – and legal – drugs
The rates of direct death and overdose leave out other factors such as health and socioeconomic issues. Alcohol, in particular, is widely associated with several issues, such as a higher rate of crime and traffic accidents that cause harm both to users and to society as a whole. What makes alcohol so dangerous is most obvious when looking at health effects and drunk driving. But there are other major issues when it comes to alcohol, like aggression, erratic behavior, injuries, drop in economic productivity, family problems, and even crime. Alcohol is a factor in 40% of violent crimes, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
- Alcohol increases the risk of a traffic accident 13 times over, whereas other drugs double to triple the risk.
- It takes less relative doses to die from alcohol than it does to die from marijuana and even cocaine
- Alcohol causes more fatal traffic accidents than other drugs – in 2010 alcohol caused more than 10,000 traffic fatalities
Tobacco is a known killer
Smoking cigarettes used to be chic and very commonplace. I mean, you could smoke on airplanes and even hospitals! Just watch an older movie, like The Exorcist (the original) in which a doctor is seen smoking in a hospital, and you can see remnants of a by-gone era.
Once the evidence of just how detrimental cigarette smoking and tobacco was uncovered, all hell broke loose. Do you remember all the lawsuits Big Tobacco was fighting? Yet, tobacco remains a legal substance – a heavily-taxed substance, but legal nonetheless.
Prescription drugs like narcotic painkillers and benzos (Xanax and Valium) are super popular in a pill-popping society like ours. Back pain? Take a pill. Headache? There’s a pill for that. Social anxiety? Here, swallow this. With all these meds floating around, doctors, parents, and even grandparents have become unwitting drug dealers.
Although there are conditions for which medication might be a necessary intervention, there are non-narcotic alternatives as well as lifestyle changes that can improve quality of life. If you are struggling with alcohol, prescription pills, or any other substance, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Addiction Specialists are available around the clock to answer your questions. You are not alone.
By Cheryl Steinberg
I just celebrated two years of sobriety, being clean and sober from all mood and mind-altering substances, save for caffeine and nicotine (nicotine-free now for 6 months). In my addiction, I used and abused anything I could get my hands on: from alcohol to painkillers to benzos to even sleeping pills. I would say that my true DOC was opiates, painkillers and later, heroin.
My love affair began with a drug called Tramadol, also known as Ultram and Ultracet. It had been prescribed to me for a legitimate pain condition and, at the time, I was told it was a ‘safe’ drug, meaning that it had a low rate of physical dependence amongst those to whom it’s prescribed. I was told it was a “non-narcotic opioid,” not really knowing what that meant. I thought it sounded good, though and trusted my physician whole-heartedly.
What I found, however, from taking Tramadol, was that it made me feel good. You know, that certain euphoric high that illicit drugs and narcotic painkillers give you. I also noticed that, if I took more than was prescribed, I felt even better; higher.
Around this time, I had graduated from an institute of higher learning and was living in the college town. This wasn’t a very big town nor was there much to do, except hit the bars and pubs along Main Street. I honestly wasn’t that big of a boozer anymore; alcohol had stopped ‘working’ for me a while back, while I was still in college. It just didn’t sit well with me physically and I couldn’t drink enough to get drunk (why else do people drink, amirite?).
Then one evening, when I had plans to meet friends at a local pub, I took my Tramadol beforehand. I ordered a beer with the rest of them, not expecting to be able to finish it. This time was different, though. I could drink, and drink some more. The alcohol didn’t upset my stomach! And, as an added bonus, I was pleasantly high and drunk, due to the synergistic effect of the Tramadol and alcohol together. This was to be my new jam for a while.
But ‘a while’ soon passed and the drug combination stopped working. Even with the tramadol, I wasn’t able to drink alcohol anymore. But, you know what? I didn’t even matter. I had my new love: painkillers. And, in love I was!
The rest of my story doesn’t really matter for the purpose of this article. I just wanted to illustrate how my addiction to narcotic painkillers and heroin began. It’s been my experience that there are several other people like me out there, who thought they were being prescribed a relatively safe drug with no potential for addiction only later to find themselves hooked.
Others in recovery don’t seem to know what Tramadol is and that is worrisome to me. I want to get the word out that Tramadol is not something to be taken lightly – both literally and figuratively.
Always always always be a self-advocate when it comes to your health and when dealing with your healthcare providers. Let them know you are concerned about taking certain drugs, such as narcotic painkillers and benzos, if they want to prescribe a drug of these classes to you. There are alternatives to narcotic medications. In the case that your condition requires something more potent, say, you’ve undergone surgery, then don’t be a martyr. There are safe ways to take these drugs. Always follow the prescription instructions. Talk to your sober supports and sponsor. Have someone trustworthy hold your prescription for you. Whatever it takes.
So, is tramadol safe for people in recovery? It’s not necessarily a black-and-white issue with a clear-cut answer. Tramadol is an opioid – which just means that it is a man-made opiate (heroin). If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or any other substance, help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. You are not alone.