1. Changing the language we use to address people with addictions in our reporting creates an environment where they feel comfortable speaking about their struggles outside of just recovery groups.
  2. More than 2/3 of American families have been touched by addiction. Almost everyone in the U.S. can say they know someone who is suffering or has suffered from addiction. Yet people are still ambivalent on whether addiction is an illness or a choice.
  3. Addiction is a biochemical problem in the brain. For teens and young adults, the brain isn’t even fully developed. This means there is no way you can look at a 15-year-old with an addiction and accurately say he chooses to have an addiction. “Just say no” simply won’t work.
  4. We can quantify the public ramifications of addiction. It’s not just a “private” problem. Each year addiction results in $260 billion of lost productivity in the workplace, $37 billion increased healthcare costs, and $52 billion in criminal justice expenses. Only two percent of these costs go toward preventing addiction and treating it like a health problem.
  5. Our country’s negative views of addiction and punitive coverage of addiction in the media are evident in how articles are written on celebrities struggling with addiction. For example, news coverage of Whitney Houston’s and Lindsay Lohan’s battles with addiction sensationalized their drug use. It focused on erratic behaviors and exploited the addictions. We also see massive news coverage when celebrities are self-destructing, but the media coverage vanishes once a celeb enters recovery.
  6. 5 million Americans are currently living in recovery. Still, our health system doesn’t focus resources on finding better solutions for treating addiction. Despite addiction being referred to as a chronic illness, we don’t give people health checkups like we would for a disease like cancer. This is in part because of anonymity — addiction is very misunderstood because people with addictions have been made to feel ashamed to come forward with their stories.
  7. The 1976 project knows as Operation Understanding was a groundbreaking moment in addressing addiction as a country. The National Council on Alcoholism held an event featuring 50 distinguished people from various fields to raise awareness of addiction. Speakers included astronaut Buzz Aldrin and actor Gary Moore.
  8. Marty Mann, the first woman to achieve long-term recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, founded the National Council on Alcoholism.
  9. Carol McDaid, a founding board member of Faces and Voices of Recovery, helped pass the 2008 Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. The law ended health insurance discrimination against people with addiction. She had been fighting for a law like this since 1996. A senator even told her once that “addicts don’t vote.”
  10. 1 in 3 teenagers in the U.S. meet the medical criteria for addiction. 1 out of 70 will go to rehab. Yet there are very few high schools in the U.S. designed specifically