December | Center on Addiction


2016 was a historic year for addiction policy. In the face of a devastating opioid epidemic that shows little signs of abating, the federal government engaged in multiple efforts to change our national tone and approach toward addiction. There has been great progress in improving our collective understanding of addiction as a disease instead of a moral failing. This is reflected in the work of lawmakers who have adopted public health approaches in lieu of punitive criminal justice responses. 

In the 1950’s, government agencies and medical researchers started viewing alcoholism as a disease instead of a moral failure or lack of will power. Research studies began testing ways to help people with alcoholism stop or reduce their drinking.

The past few years have seen an explosion in the use of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), especially among young people. Since e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market several years ago, the news and information posted online and on social media often contain contradictory and confusing messages about their potential risks and benefits. This has led many cigarette smokers to wonder if e-cigarettes will help them stop smoking and many parents to wonder if e-cigarettes are safe for kids to use.

Why are family dinners important when it comes to preventing substance use? Margie Skeer, ScD, MPH, MSW, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, has devoted her career to understating the role family dinners play in adolescent risk prevention. She sat down with us to discuss what she’s learned during her years of research.

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