Photo: CDC/Debora Cartagena/CDCLegislators, facing an election year, are starting to take action in an attempt to control the drug epidemic surrounding heroin and other opioid abuse.
Stories on how heroin and other opioid abuse shattering communities have been the focus of many powerful pieces in media outlets across the country. After years of inaction, Washington, D.C. ,has begun turning its attention to the issue and moving toward some possible action.
But covering the moving parts of the Department of Health and Human Services, Congress and the White House in tackling the issue is akin to tracking a moving target, all complicated by election-year politicking. What’s a reporter – especially one outside D.C. – to do? Continue reading
Recent Associated Press coverage of opioid pain medications, combined with new government data, serve as a reminder that opioids continue to be a scourge for public health officials looking to tamp down misuse of the drugs.
They help highlight the need for reporters not to lose sight of the ongoing efforts to control these powerful pills even as rising heroin use captures more of the headlines. Continue reading
[See update below.]
What comes to mind when you think about a substance abuser? Is it this?
What about this?
We’ve reported previously on older adults and the abuse of opioids but, as this recent story by Peter Hirschfeld of Vermont Public Radio highlights, the problems of drug and alcohol abuse among older adults isn’t going away. It’s actually getting worse. Continue reading
Pia Christensen/AHCJ Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, independent journalist Sonya Collins and Des Moines Register health reporter Tony Leys listen as public health researcher Judith Prochaska of Stanford Prevention Research Center talks about e-cigarettes.
The Health Journalism 2015 panel on e-cigarette use, or vaping, was anything but dull. Des Moines Register health reporter Tony Leys lined up the selection of guests, including public health researcher Judith Prochaska of Stanford Prevention Research Center, American Vaping Association president Greg Conley and Atlanta-based independent journalist Sonya Collins. The highly divergent presentations of Prochaska and Conley expertly set up Collins’ final presentation to talk about the middle ground she found in her reporting.
The greatest challenge for journalists in writing about e-cigarettes is that they are so new – the data we would like to have are not available yet. The data that we do have are greatly limited. The opinions and perspectives of stakeholders vary greatly and are passionate. Public health researchers who recall the days of Big Tobacco’s lies regarding the harms of cigarettes are deeply skeptical and uneasy about investigating potential benefits or reduced risks from e-cigarettes. Continue reading
Here’s a great piece by Carla Johnson, an Associated Press medical writer and AHCJ board member. She highlights a little-known element of the Affordable Care Act and pulls together many strands of policy, hard numbers and real people’s needs.
The story addresses how the health law will expand access to treatment for addiction and substance abuse – but that the system may not be up to meeting a backlog of unmet human need.
Her vivid opening sentence sets the stage:
It has been six decades since doctors concluded that addiction was a disease that could be treated, but today the condition still dwells on the fringes of the medical community.