Career Development : Calendar

Words matter: Responsible reporting on alcohol use and misuse



Dec. 15, noon CT/1pm ET

As evolving science has helped researchers understand the science of addiction disorders better, it's become clear that much of the language we use to describe those conditions is outdated and can increase stigma, particularly with disorders related to alcohol use. Journalists need to be aware of appropriate terms and their meanings as well as common misconceptions about alcohol use disorder. This webinar will cover the appropriate terminology in covering alcohol disorders, current insights into how scientists now think of alcohol misuse, and common misconceptions about alcohol use and risks, including popular misunderstanding of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy. 

The webinar features Dr. George Koob, director of the NIAAA, as well an NIAAA researcher, a researcher into prenatal alcohol exposure, and a journalist and best-selling author of a memoir about living with an alcohol disorder. These are some of the topics the webinar will address:

* Basic terms everyone should accurately understand, such as "overdose" and "blackouts"
* Stigmatizing words to avoid
* New terms that can increase the public’s understanding
* Thinking of alcohol issues as a spectrum
* Recognition of alcohol disorders as affecting all ages and genders
* The most up-to-date research into risks of alcohol exposure during pregnancy

View the recording

George F. Koob

Sarah Hepola

Luisa Zuccolo

Patricia Powell

Tara Haelle

  • George F. Koob, Ph.D., is the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), where he provides leadership in the national effort to reduce the public health burden associated with alcohol misuse. As NIAAA Director, Dr. Koob oversees a broad portfolio of alcohol research ranging from basic science to epidemiology, diagnostics, prevention, and treatment. Dr. Koob earned his doctorate in Behavioral Physiology from Johns Hopkins University in 1972. Prior to taking the helm at NIAAA, he served as Professor and Chair of the Scripps’ Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders and Director of the Alcohol Research Center at the Scripps Research Institute.

  • Sarah Hepola is the author of the bestselling book, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank To Forget, a memoir that was also the first book (that she knows of anyway) to discuss the science of blackouts. She began her journalism career twenty years ago at the Austin Chronicle, where she wrote about culture, and her gigs since then have included: music critic, travel writer, beauty columnist, sex blogger, and personal essays editor. In 2010, she quit drinking after a pretty robust career in that, too. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Elle, Glamour, Salon, and Texas Monthly, where she is a writer-at-large. She lives in Dallas with a very fluffy gray cat named Wallace.

  • Luisa Zuccolo is Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at the University of Bristol. Following her first degree in Physics, she obtained a Fellowship from the University of Turin, Italy, in Cancer Epidemiology and Surveillance. She then moved to the University of Bristol and was awarded a pre-doctoral Fellowship from the UK Medical Research Council to complete an MSc in Epidemiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and a PhD in Genetic Epidemiology (University of Bristol). She was then awarded a second MRC Fellowship in population health science epidemiology, after which, in 2018, she secured a tenured position at the University of Bristol. Dr Zuccolo researches the causal effects of alcohol on health, in particular of prenatal alcohol exposure, using methods and designs that improve causal inference. She is also interested in barriers to and effects of prolonged breastfeeding.

  • Patricia Powell, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Powell works closely with the NIAAA Director to provide scientific leadership in the development, implementation, and management of NIAAA’s broad research portfolio. Previously, Dr. Powell held the position of NIAAA Associate Director for Scientific Initiatives. In that role, she oversaw a broad range of research activities, sought opportunities to jumpstart or expand projects that reflected the Director’s priorities, and identified opportunities for NIAAA to become more involved in existing activities and initiatives across the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and beyond. Dr. Powell has 20 years of research experience in developmental genetics and in cellular and molecular biology.

  • Moderator: Tara Haelle