Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

An Addict by Any Other Name, Please

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

  What’s in a name? Maybe, recovery.

"New" me, at 73.

Bob Gaydos

Addiction — to opioids, alcohol, heroin, other substances or behavior — is a medically recognized disease, something for which treatment is available and prescribed so that the person who suffers from it can be returned as a contributing member of society. That’s the official, appropriately concerned line put forth by government agencies, the medical community and those who work in the field.

    Unofficially, which is to say, to much of society including members of the aforementioned groups, a person with the disease of addiction is commonly referred to as an addict. A drunk. A junkie. A cokehead or crackhead. An alkie. A pothead. A pill-popper. He or she is often regarded as someone who is weak-willed, immoral, untrustworthy, rather than someone suffering from a disease. A liar. A loser. Someone not worth the time or effort — or money — to associate with, never mind help.

   One of the major obstacles to persons seeking treatment for addiction is the stigma attached to the disease. It has been framed seemingly forever as a moral issue, a crime issue. Rarely — only recently — has it been framed as a health issue. We have waged a war on drugs as we tried to cure cancer or diabetes.

    Words matter.

    Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania lbast year released a study with the key recommendation to stop using the words “addict,” “alcoholic” and “substance abuser.” The study found the words carry a strong negative bias. Basically, the researchers said, they label the person, not the disease. Study participants not only displayed a reluctance to associate with persons described with those words in fictional vignettes, the researchers said participants also displayed “implicit bias” to the terms themselves when given a word-association task. They were subconsciously reacting negatively to the words.bbb

     If just the words can stir negative bias in people, imagine what an actual person carrying the label “addict” can arouse.

     The Penn researchers said their study was consistent with previous research that found some doctors, even mental health professionals, less willing to help patients who were labeled “addicts” or “substance abusers.”

     The researchers did not discount the fact that conscious bias against persons with addiction — for example, how involved one would want to be with the person described — is often based on personal negative experiences with “alcoholics” or “addicts.”  Family members, friends, co-workers have experienced pain and suffering from their connection to persons with alcohol or substance use disorders and a resistance to not just “calling them what they are” may be understandable.

      But, the researchers said, over time, adopting what they call person-first language (referring to a person with a heroin addiction rather than a heroin addict) — especially by public officials and the media — could help reduce the negative bias and stigma that keeps people from seeking and getting help for their disease.

       In 2017, prior to this study, the Associated Press, which publishes a style guide used by most news organizations, adopted a new policy on reporting on addiction. It recommends that news organizations avoid terms such as “addict” and “alcoholic” in favor of person-first language — someone with an alcohol or substance use disorder or someone who was using opioids addictively, rather than a substance abuser or former addict. Someone in recovery, rather than someone who is “clean.” Shift the blame from the person to the disease.

     This doesn’t excuse or absolve the person who is addicted from any damage he or she may have done, and it may be considerable. But it does provide an identity beyond the addiction and makes the road to recovery more navigable.

     Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News adopted a policy similar to AP’s.

      The concept is simple: A person should not be defined solely by his or her disease. When mental health professionals stopped referring to patients as schizophrenics, society started referring to people with schizophrenia. Similarly, there are people with diabetes today who once were labeled diabetics. It is often argued that alcoholism or addiction are different from other diseases because the person chooses to use the substance. But experience tells us no one chooses to become addicted and the nature of the disease is being unable to stop — or at least feeling that stopping is not possible. Negative labels can’t help.

       Government agencies have begun using the new language, referring to persons with alcohol use or substance use disorders rather then alcoholics or addicts. Some who have managed to face their addiction and overcome it have abandoned the anonymity of 12-step programs and identify themselves publicly as persons in recovery. The opioid crisis has spawned a program called Hope Not Handcuffs, which steers the person who is addicted to treatment rather than incarceration.

       An exception to the change in language is recognized for those who are in 12-Step programs who identify themselves as alcoholics or addicts at their meetings. These are people who don’t see the terms as negatives, but rather as an honest admission of a fact in their lives. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have been saying, “My name is xxxx, and I’m an alcoholic” at meetings for nearly 84 years. It’s tradition. There’s no stigma attached, but rather a common bond that holds out the hope there is something beyond being labeled a “drunken bum” or “hopeless addict.”

      The groups recommending the language change say this is not merely “political correctness,” as some have said. Lives are obviously still being ravaged by addiction. If something has to change in approaching the disease, there is a growing feeling that how we talk about it might be a good place to start.

Bob Gaydos is a freelance writer. rjgaydos@gmail.com

It’s The Wrong Place for a Bar

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

By Patrick Gallagher

no barRecently, due to unfortunate mutual confusion, the Food Truck festival planned for Stanley Deming Park in Warwick had to be relocated at the very last stage of a complicated planning effort.

The Village of Warwick refused the applicant a permit because alcohol is not allowed in village parks. That was for just one event.

The village, like all wise municipalities, knows that the insurance risks related to sponsoring an event where alcohol is served are gigantic.

So why do the trustees and planning board think a gigantic bar in a quiet village neighborhood is OK?

Are they confused again?

Two blocks away from downtown, something they will not even consider in a village park would be permitted 365 days a year till 1 and 2 a.m. Bell to Bell.   

The same risk management principles apply to residents on Van Buren and West Streets as on South Street, but since it’s not village property, they can wash their hands of local concerns. But drunks can drive or fall or crash on any street. Wheeler, Welling, Orchard, Main Street, all the same.

All the liability belongs to the walkers, long-term residents and folks crossing streets. The village wants to allow the neighborhood to soak up all the risk to homeowners. All the traffic problems all the concerns for kids walking home from school or activities at a village park or friend’s house  just fall on the residents.

Responsible citizens and homeowners can’t accept this liability shifted to our front doors. Poor planning that creates extraordinary risk is uninsurable and unacceptable.

Pretend we are part of the village. Adopt a moratorium. Put the PLAN back in planning board.

Please, residents, come out and help us prevent Warwick from becoming Barwick. Come out and represent yourself at the next Planning Board meeting on June 15 at 7:30. Speak for your community.

Patrick Gallagher lives in Warwick.

Hogan

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

 

Bill Hogan

Thank You, and Be Well

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Just a note of appreciation in this festive season for your support throughout all seasons.

For much of the year, the world has been a stressful, angry, violent place. It sometimes becomes difficult to keep writing about greed, bigotry, hatred, and unyielding ignorance. Indeed, the steady beat of such news can make it easy to forget the good things in our lives, create an imbalance, even make one cynical. That can skew a person’s outlook … and writing.

So we take a break to remember the good things. To be grateful. To share good times with our families and friends. We hope you are doing the same.

We wish you peace, love, laughs, health and serenity.  We’ll have some zestful views on some of that good stuff next time.

And thank you again.

The writers at Zest of Orange.

Hogan

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Hogan

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

halloween Bill Hogan

Hogan

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Congress greedBill Hogan

Hogan

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

vacationBill Hogan

Hogan

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

EbolaBill Hogan

Hogan

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Putin & Nazi eyes