The influential stylebook discards ‘addict’ and ‘alcoholic’ for nonjudgmental language that recognizes addiction as a medical disorder.
06.06.2017 / BY Maia Szalavitz
FOR YEARS, people with addiction have wondered when the media would recognize our condition as a medical problem, not a moral one — when they would stop reducing us to mere “addicts” and speak of us in the more respectful and accurate “person first” language that has become common for people with other diseases and disorders.
Last week, The Associated Press took an important step in that direction. The new edition of its widely used AP Stylebook declares that “addict” should no longer be used as a noun. “Instead,” it says, “choose phrasing like he was addicted, people with heroin addiction or he used drugs.” In short, separate the person from the disease.
The style guide clarifies other important language to maximize precision and reduce bias in addiction coverage. There are new entries on “alcoholic,” and an array of substances, from bath salts and cocaine to PCP and synthetic cannabis.
Unlike many matters of style, these changes aren’t mere semantics or political correctness. Widespread media misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of addiction has led to some deadly misconceptions about how it should be managed. The AP provides news to around 15,000 media organizations and businesses, and its stylebook is highly influential in setting standards for usage. If it's more accurate terms are adopted and understood by institutions like The New York Times and CBS News, it could genuinely help improve drug treatment and policy amid an overdose crisis that shows no signs of slowing.
Drug and alcohol abuse may seem like a distant problem, but they could be affecting your home by way of your teenager. In fact, 78 percent of more than 10,000 surveyed teens admitted to having tried alcohol, while 47 percent said they’d had at least 12 drinks in the past year, according to a 2012 study from the Archives of General Psychiatry. As for drug use, 81 percent of the surveyed teens said they’d had opportunities to try illicit substances, with over 42 percent trying them.
Teen alcohol and drug use matter, for one, because these substances negatively affect the adolescent brain. There is also the disastrous potential for drunk driving and car accidents.
You can protect your teens from the negative effects of drugs and alcohol by fostering an open relationship. In addition, look for these signs your child might be abusing substances, so you can get them help.
1. Sudden change in friends
More and more kids are using with childhood friends and family members who parents often have a false sense of security with. They are often experimenting with drugs as a rite of passage.
More often than not, a teen's first exposure to drugs or alcohol is from an older peer. If your teen is hanging out with a new and older crowd, pay attention. Most kids' hobbies and interests change as they age, but if your child is suddenly no longer interested in their old friends, there could be something else going on. Talk with your teen about any new social developments, and stay up to date on who they’re spending their leisure time with.
2. Boundary pushing
Asking to stay out later is part of growing up, but a sudden and repeated pattern of missing curfew could be a sign your teen is using drugs. Note when and why your teen starts pushing against set boundaries, particularly if curfew hasn't been a problem in the past. Teens also tend to want more privacy as they experience adolescence, but a demand for constant privacy and isolation is also a sign of a deeper issue. Someone who's hiding something may get overly defensive when asked about a schedule or the night’s activities. Keep this in mind as you judge between normal teenage behavior and signs your teen might be using drugs or alcohol.
“We ask parents to monitor social media patterns and patterns of socialization particularly requests to be away from the family for hours/days at a time. So if a teen has an emerging pattern of wanting to isolate from their family and spend 24 hours at a time at a friend’s house or “hanging with friends” we are finding that to be a better indication of emerging drug use than just declining grades.” – Director of Outpatient Services, DACCO
Heroin, fentanyl flowing in through interstate network | WMTW |
Updated: 6:49 PM EDT May 16, 2017 | David Charns
An abundant supply of heroin, fentanyl and prescription pills is flowing from Mexico into Maine through an interconnected network, killing hundreds of Mainers a year and decimating communities along the way, authorities said.
Maine doctor: '[Heroin] will kill a lot of people... that includes my own son'
Maine mom: 'My daughter dying -- that brought me to heroin'
Photos: Heroin smuggled across border, hidden in everyday items
Special section on Maine's heroin & opioid epidemic: State of Addiction
Town-by-town: Where drug agents made arrests in 2016
State of Addiction: Treatment, recovery resources
In 2016, 376 people died from drug overdoses, compared to 272 in 2015, according to data from the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The influx of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that can be deadly in small quantities, is contributing to the increase.
New data compiled from hundreds of health agencies reveals the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year.
AKRON, Ohio — Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.
The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.
Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center
University of Maine
This report, funded by the Maine Office of Attorney General, provides a summary of statistics
regarding drug fatalities in Maine during 2016. Data for the report were collected at the Office
of Chief Medical Examiner. A “drug death” is identified when one or more drugs are mentioned
on the death certificate as a cause or significant contributing factor for the death.
Analysis of these deaths reveals a dramatic increase over 2015 in the total number of fatalities due to drugs, driven by a sharp surge in overdoses due to non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and heroin/morphine. Note: There have been minor changes to the preliminary 2016 totals released previously, due updated death certificate information. The revised total number of drug deaths is 376.
• Total: In 2016 there were 376 drug-induced deaths statewide, 104 (38%) more than in 2015.
• Manners of death: Of these 376, 330 (88%) were accidental overdoses, 38 (10%) were
suicides, and 8 (2%) undetermined manner.
• Overall patterns of note in 2016:
o Most (79%) drug deaths were caused by two or more drugs; the average cause of
death involved 3 drugs.
o The vast majority of overdoses (84%) were caused by at least one opioid, including
pharmaceutical and illicit (non-pharmaceutical) opioid drugs
o Fentanyl (or its analogs) and/or heroin/morphine caused 63% of deaths.
o Cocaine-involved deaths (16% of 2016 deaths) have increased 71% since 2015.
o Pharmaceutical opioid deaths (33% of 2016 deaths) have remained mostly stable,
although the number of deaths caused by hydrocodone has increased substantially,
from 2 in 2015 to 18 in 2016.
• Demographic patterns: Males outnumber females 2 to 1, and the average age is 41.