The Peter G. Dodge Foundation has kicked off its sponsorship of a three-part Speakers Series in collaboration with the New Day Campaign, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Forum on Alcohol Research and Advocacy (FARA) and the JHU Mental Health Student Group (MHSG).

As part of its 2017 programming, the New Day Campaign explores the state of Addiction Today, beginning with a symposium featuring expert speakers on myths, problems, and solutions related to alcohol addiction. These events are framed by the New Day Campaign’s signature focus on art, performance, and community conversation as a way to humanize and make tangible issues in mental illness and addiction. All three events are free and open to the public.

Part one, Alcohol Addiction: The Myth, took place on February 21, 2017. The featured speaker was Dr. E. Beth McGinty, Assistant Professor and Co-Deputy Director, Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as student leaders of FARA and MHSG, all of whom took part in an interactive exchange about facts and fictions surrounding alcohol-use disorder (AUD).

Pre-Doctoral Fellow and artist David Fakunle opened the seminar with a spoken narrative piece accompanied by music, followed by an introduction by New Day Campaign Program Manager Tiffany Jones and PGDF Executive Director Elizabeth Cairns. Author Jen Grow then read from a short story about motherhood and addiction. Doctoral student Raimee Eck explored misperceptions about alcohol addiction, then opened the floor to Dr. McGinty, who made a presentation about public attitudes toward AUD and how myths and misunderstanding shape public perception.

Dr. McGinty began by explaining the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder, and citing epidemiological statistics. She stated that AUD is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, affecting 15.7 million Americans, yet only ten percent of people with AUD receive treatment.

She briefly discussed prevention strategies and treatments before exploring public attitudes about AUD, including low recognition that there is a neurobiological component to AUD (compared to higher public recognition of a neurobiological basis for schizophrenia or major depression), public belief that AUD is caused by “bad character” or “family upbringing” (65% of people attributed AUD to “bad character”, compared to 32% for major depression), and other factors measuring stigma and its effects.

Dr. McGinty noted the ways in which language can influence stigma and recommended use of clinical terms: ‘alcohol use disorder’ rather than ‘alcohol abuse’ or ‘alcohol dependence;’ ‘person with AUD’ rather than ‘alcoholic’ or ‘alcohol abuser.’ She concluded by showing the link between stigma and reduced access to treatment and other services, as well as discrimination in employment and housing practices.


Upcoming Speakers in the Series:

Alcohol Addiction Today: The Problem

April 5, 2017, 12:00 – 1:30pm

An exploration of the stigma associated with alcoholism and substance use, and the challenge of binge drinking on college campuses. Speakers include New Day Campaign Founder Peter Bruun on the topic of stigma and its ill effects, and others on problems related to underage drinking.

Alcohol Addiction Today: The Solution

May 2, 2017, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Focusing on the need to increase access to treatment and treatment modalities, and the importance of community organizing around receiving services. Featured speaker Vincent DeMarco, President of Health Care for All, and others will outline solutions that work.

All events are presented at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Feinstone Hall, 615 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore MD, 21205, and are free and open to the public.