Journalist Maia Szalavitz, who has written for publications, including Vice, TIME and The New York Times, spoke to our class on Tuesday about her own recovery and her work writing about the addiction and recovery world. Szalavitz emphasized the importance of using person first language and having important conversations with editors about ethical concerns when reporting and/or writing stories.

Szalavitz also spoke about the importance of using anecdotes to demonstrate data trends; rather than finding data to complement anecdotes, which is not an accurate way to present information to readers.

Szalavitz also acknowledged that journalists are becoming more socially aware when reporting on addiction and recovery in recent years, discussing addiction as a medical issue and acknowledging the racism that is inherent in American drug laws.

She also shared some of her opinions on hot topics surrounding her beat. Szalavitz said she thinks safe injection sites, or CUES, can be a helpful solution in areas of concentrated drug use, like in Kensington, but she doesn’t see them being a widespread solution to opioid use across the country.

Szalavitz also said she has noticed a cycle in the nation’s collective drug use in the last few decades, in which the popular drug of the day alternates from being some sort of stimulant back to some sort of depressant, and so on back and forth. She said politicians would be wise to make sure the next generation moves toward marijuana, rather than methamphetamine after nationwide opioid use wanes.