Doctor Joseph D’Orazio came in to speak to our class on Tuesday, February 27. Dr. D’Orazio is a doctor the Temple Trust Clinic. He’s board certified in the field of addiction medicine, and is trained in toxicology and emergency medicine.

It was really interesting to get the point of view from an emergency physician. Every guest speaker that we’ve had this semester so far has agreed that drug addiction is a mental health disorder, but Dr. D’Orazio brought it to us in a way that was not only easy to understand, but — for me, at least — made it easy for me to explain to other people. “Drug dependency and substance-use disorder is a chronic disease,” Dr. D’Orazio said. He continued on, saying that most people view relapse as a weakness. However, when we look at instances of people with health issues and mental health disorders, no one takes their required medications accurately all the time. But that isn’t looked at as a weakness; it’s just a mistake, a little quirk of human nature. The same line of thinking should be applied when looking at someone’s recovery process.

Use of language came up once again, showing just how important it is to use the correct language. There were two new phrases that I don’t really remember being discussed in other lectures — “dirty urine” (which should be referred to as a positive drug screen) and “IV drug abuser (IVDA)” (which would be ‘a person who uses IV drugs). What surprised me in this instance was that IVDA is actually used as medical terminology. It made me realize just how entrenched harmful language is in our society.

The thing that stuck out to me the most was that four times as many people die from overdose in Philadelphia than there are homicides in the city. That says a lot. When that subject was brought up, Dr. D’Orazio mentioned that there are entire trauma units at hospitals that are trained and prepared to handle those kinds of situations, but (I believe) Dr. D’Orazio is the only one that’s trained and prepared at Temple University Hospital to handle an overdose. That fact is hard to wrap my mind around. I can see the line of thinking that people go through to justify that and think that it’s okay, but I can’t imagine actually rationalizing that.