Nigella Lawson is an unlikely candidate to be at the center of a major drug scandal, but that’s what's happening to the TV chef as a fraud case related to her two former assistants heats up. Ex-husband Charles Saatchi accused Lawson of giving drugs to their 19-year-old daughter, Cosimi, and claims she authorized her two assistants, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, to swindle him out of $490,000. He also dubbed his ex-wife “Hi-gella” and claims that the sisters are innocent victims in the crime.
In their testimony, the Grillo sisters said that Lawson had a daily habit of using marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs, and had been taking “cocaine every day for a decade.” The former assistants also said their wild shopping sprees and first-class airfare on Saatchi’s credit card were authorized by Lawson in exchange for not revealing her drug use to him. A letter to Lawson released to the court also expresses Saatchi’s concern that she “has no credible recollection of events as a result of drug abuse.”
Judge Robin Johnson ruled last Tuesday that the trial should not be abandoned, which means that the popular TV chef will likely be questioned in the witness box about her alleged drug addiction. Lawson and Saatchi filed for divorce last June after he was photographed with his hand around her throat outside of a restaurant. Although he was cautioned by police after the incident, he was not charged with any crimes.
But just a few days after making the scathing accusations, Saatchi told the London court that he had no proof of Lawson actually using drugs. “I have never, never seen any evidence of Nigella taking any drug whatsoever,” he said. Meanwhile, Lawson is reportedly set for a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
- Joe Jonas Claims to Have Smoked Weed for First Time with Miley Cyrus [E! Online]
- Rhode Island Considers Creating Drug Registry [Boston.com]
- British Mom Admits Cola Addiction After Kicking 24-Can a Day Habit [Metro]
- Russia to Raise Price of Vodka to Combat Alcoholism, Deaths [TIME]
- New Jersey Gov. Christ Christie Refuses to Expand State's Medical Marijuana Program [NJ.com]
- Massachusetts State Legislators Want Health Insurance Companies to Cover Substance Abuse [The Berkshire Eagle]
- Number of British Pre-Teens Treated for Eating Disorders Triples [The Telegraph]
- 260 Pounds of Pot Falls From the Sky in San Diego [NBC]
According to a new law passed by city council,some residents of the idyllic San Francisco suburb of San Rafael, CA are no longer allowed to smoke in their own homes. The law only applies, however, to people whose homes share a common wall with a neighbor.
San Rafael citizens who live in apartments, townhouses, and condominiums can no longer light up inside their own walls after the city council made active a law that passed unanimously last year. The smoking ban is intended to eliminate secondhand smoke creeping into neighboring units through air ducts, windows and cracks in the floorboard. Rebecca Woodbury, an analyst with the San Rafael Manager’s office, helped to craft the bill and was duly pleased with her work. "We based it on a county ordinance," she said. "But we modified it, and ended up making it the strictest. I'm not aware of any ordinance that's stronger." The American Lung Association praised San Rafael’s effort and called for further action statewide. “It is imperative that California enact a multi-unit housing smoking ban to protect all California families from deadly secondhand smoke in the places they should feel safest – their own homes,” said the association’s CEO Jane Wener.
But the action was not as well received by housing advocates and some residents. “[The] smoking ban actually intends to punish people for what they do in their own homes,” says San Rafael resident Thomas Ruppenthal. “I really feel this is tyranny.” Meanwhile, the California Apartment Association stated earlier in the year that the bill would have a negative impact on people with disabilities unable to leave their homes to light up. "I'm not justifying the practice, but somebody in a wheelchair who smokes in the late evening, for example, is going to have to go in the dark to a place off-site," said spokeswoman Debra Carlton.
Advocates for the law, however, have maintained their enthusiasm and hope that the measure will save some of the 50,000 American lives that are lost to secondhand smoke each year.
Scientists at Cardiff University in Wales are leading a major four-year study to determine whether neurofeedback - a technique that "retrains" the brain using positive imagery - can help individuals with post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, and addiction to drugs and alcohol.
A host of academic and industry figures from the Netherlands, France, Portugal, and the UK, among other countries, met in November as part of BRAINTRAIN, a £5.9 million consortium funded by the European Commission. As part of the study, scientists will use MRI scanners at Cardiff University's Brain Imaging Research Centre to monitor brain pattern activity of patients in real time, and then feed back the activity levels to the subjects in the form of a simple display onscreen. "Using the feedback, it allows patients to see and alter activity in specific parts of their brain," said Professor David Linden of the University's School of Psychology. "We will explore and refine real-time functional neuroimaging and find out whether they can be used to train patients to regulate their own brain activity." Previous studies have suggested that neurofeedback might help individuals with depression and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Project members also suggested that the technique could be useful in addressing alcohol and substance addiction. Patients would be shown images of alcoholic beverages while researchers would explore which area of the brain was responsible for processing such pictures. From there, participants could receive the activity level feedback generated by the images and use the information as a sort of self-monitoring tool to restore brain function and promote resilience. "Ultimately, we hope to establish whether this new technique could become a part of comprehensive treatment programs for these conditions," Linden said.
While Madonna has had public battles with her brothers in the past, she is reuniting with one of them as he celebrates his one-year sober anniversary. Now working at a rehab center in Hollywood for drug addicts, Martin Ciccone has confirmed that he and the Material Girl are on good terms again.
“She’s helping me out,” Ciccone told Daily Mail. “She’s getting me some new teeth. I’m hoping to start doing voiceover work again for cartoons and video games and get back on my feet.” He also endorsed Alcoholics Anonymous and said he uses it in his current work to help people get sober.
Ciccone struggled with alcohol addiction for decades and even repeatedly slammed his sister on his 1994 rap album, which was done under the name of MC Ciccone. Madonna later paid for him to enter rehab in 1999, but he ended up back in treatment in 2003.
Madonna has seven siblings, and her relationship with two of her other brothers has also been tumultuous. Anthony Ciccone has been homeless on the streets of Traverse City, MI, for the last three years, and was fired from the family vineyard after he repeatedly drank wine from the vats. “I never loved her in the first place. She never loved me,” said Anthony last March. “My father would be very happy if I died of hypothermia and then he wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore.” Martin called the interview “one-sided” and said he is reaching out to Anthony to help him get sober.
Madonna's other brother, Christopher Ciccone, released a scathing tell-all book about the singer in 2008; she cut ties with him afterwards, but he said last year that they are now communicating again.
What has been going on in the lovely state of Maine these days? First it was reported that a record 770 babies born in Maine so far in 2013 are addicted to drugs, and now Lincoln, ME – a sleepy town of just 5,000 people – is seeing an alarming rise in the number of addicts. And the average age has been getting younger.
While the evidence is anecdotal, police and treatment centers have seen people in their 20s and even teenagers either seeking treatment for the opiate addictions or committing crimes to get their fix. Sharon Greenleaf, assistant director at Northeast Occupational Exchange, has noticed the difference. “Before the situation was that we would see an older group of people, probably more in their late 30s and 40s,” she said. “Now we are seeing people using drugs at a much younger age, in their early, early teens, and now they are coming into treatment in their 20s and they have already had 10 or 15 years of drug use.” Greenleaf added that many of her patients are addicted to hardcore drugs like oxycodone, bath salts, and heroin.
Meanwhile, police in Lincoln and elsewhere across the state have seen a rise in violent and property crimes. The number of robberies increased by 13.8 percent, while domestic violence has risen 4.5 percent. “Drugs remain a key reason for much of the crime in Maine,” Public Safety Commissioner John E. Morris said in a press release earlier this year.
Options for the state are limited, particularly for treatment centers, which battle the state’s two-year cap on Medicaid coverage for medications used to fight opiate addiction. For recovery professionals like Greenleaf, that means doing everything possible to make treatment more available. “We have tried to make it as low-barrier and easy to enter as possible so there is nothing that gets in the way of people who want to attend it. We hope.”