MAINSTREAM NEWS MEDIA PERPETUATES STIGMA:
The NY Times is to be commended for its article (27 Jan) about "the epidemic that wasn't" - dispelling much of the misinformation that has led to prosecution and punishment of women who have used cocaine during pregnancy. Sadly, however, in this article exposing the myth of the "crack baby" there was a photo whose caption referred to "a baby born addicted to cocaine."
This description of babies who may have been exposed to cocaine in utero is inconsistent with lay as well as professional definitions of addiction that refer to "compulsive, uncontrolled use . . . under conditions harmful to society." Definitions aside, the popular perception of "addicts" is almost universally highly pejorative and reflects fear and loathing. It is unfortunate that the Times refused to publish letters of some of the experts quoted, who urged that the paper repudiate its ill-chosen terminology.