Dr. Joe D’Orazio, an emergency physician and toxicologist at Temple Episcopal Hospital, spoke to our class on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Like many of our previous guest speakers he began his presentation by talking about the importance of person first language. He discussed some of the short comings of the medical field in terms of the language that they use to discuss substance use disorders and the people that they affect, and how he hopes to educate others in his field about the impact that their words have on their patients.
He also made the very good point that although many people choose to view substance use disorders as choices that people make, they are chronic illnesses like diabetes that some people are more prone to than others, but that can affect anybody. He also noted that many patients being treated for chronic illnesses of any kind are highly unlikely to follow their doctors’ orders, and that that doesn’t make them bad people or mean that they are not trying to recover.
The most interesting part of his presentation for me personally was his discussion of the biochemical and neurological responses that lead to substance use disorders. I am very rusty on biology but I am always excited to learn more about the technical aspects of diseases as I feel that they can dispel many of the myths about substance use disorders.