Experts report that about 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Additional people are considered sex or gambling addicts. Added together, about one of every 15 American adults suffers from one or more addiction. Many turn to The Fix (www.thefix.com) to obtain help in how to cope, remedy their situation, or obtain assistance for loved ones.
The categories reveal what The Fix wants to achieve: News, Features, Culture, Sober Living, Rehab Reviews, Ask an Expert, and Resources. It aims to update addicted people on changes in drug and alcohol laws, trends taking place both in the US and overseas, and the latest remedies to improve one’s condition. The Fix offers exactly what its name suggests--one-stop assistance for handling and overcoming one’s addictions.
The Fix includes news on substance abuse and personal commentary about it. For example, Susan Cheever, the author of a book on Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson, wrote an article titled “Secret Drinking, Media Blackout.” She accuses the media of downplaying news about excessive drinkers such as John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, and of ignoring statistics about how the cutback in drinking is increasing the life span of Americans. She cites a Gallup poll that said American over-drinking has been reduced from 35% of adults in 1990 to 22% in 2011. “Alcoholism is also often a well-kept family secret,” she says. “We seem to want to keep it a national secret.”
To garner the attention of its readers, editor Mike Guy, contributor to Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone, occasionally lets the content lapse into the prurient. For example, Christopher O’Connor’s “The Twisted Chronicles of Rehab Sex” reveals how he seduced a fellow rehabber while they were attending 12-step programs away from the facility. He shows how he undermined his agreement, violated his pact, and plunged deeper into sexual addiction. Though O’Connor’s tale was hard to resist reading, it’s not clear how the addicted person benefits from it.
Just as travel sites rate hotels, The Fix evaluates rehab centers, concentrating on what they do right and where they go wrong. The rehab facility The Retreat, for example, specializes in reinforcing 12-step programs, while Recovery Road zeroes in on helping substance abusers and gambling addicts. It offers bonding exercises with clients to replace the lure of illegal activities.
Many of the site’s features track how addicted people overcome their habit. For example, CBS sports announcer Pat O’Brien was a closet alcoholic for two decades. He tried rehab several times but it never worked until a 2008 stint at Hazelden finally turned him around. Now on his syndicated radio sports show he often digresses to discuss sobriety as much as LeBron James and Peyton Manning. He discusses blacking out from excessive drinking, how his drinking intensified as he got older, and why rehab was finally effective. “My fourth was about saving myself, not my job,” he said.
One of the most useful sections of The Fix is Ask the Expert. A series of addiction experts including psychiatrist Jeffrey Jung and self-described sober coach Patty Powers answer readers’ questions via video. Questions include what damage can repeated marijuana use have on one’s brain, how to overcome obsessive thoughts, and if intimacy was a problem when addicted, how do you deal with it when sober?
The Resources area lists a number of websites where readers can get assistance. Included in the list are Dual Recovery Anonymous (for people with chemical and emotional dependence), Marijuana Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous.
The Culture section profiles mostly B-list celebrities who are overcoming addictions. Profiles included actor/comic Tom Arnold, podcast host Jimmy Pardo, Bob Forrest from Celebrity Rehab, and actress Barbara Eden regarding her son’s overdose. One article that stood out profiled rock singers who said no to drugs.
The site also provides an update of major media outlets presenting addiction-related stories. Stories highlighted included Mexican drug cartel gun battles presented on Fox News, the first electronic cigarette targeted at women posted on feminist blog Jezebel, and the blaming of sex addictions on medications proclaimed by a French court.
The Fix encourages interaction with its readers. On the Reader’s Forum, it poses questions such as should drowsy drivers be persecuted like drunk offenders, are local 12-step programs back home visited during the holidays as effective as attending regular meetings, and will legalizing marijuana increase or decrease its use?
It also offers solutions. The Fix has a helpline where readers can obtain information on the best local rehabilitation centers. The Fix lives up to its name—it fixes by offering pragmatic solutions on how to overcome a variety of addictions.
Gary M. Stern is a freelance writer based in New York City.