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Missed opportunities in overdose coverage

January 14, 2019
Twitter coverage of Demi Lovato's overdose

Image: Twitter

Demi Lovato’s drug overdose and Anthony Bourdain’s suicide resulted in unequal news coverage of national help hotlines, finds a new study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

While Americans tweeted in high volumes and searched for topics relating to Demi Lovato and drugs after the pop singer’s hospitalization for an alleged heroin overdose in the summer of 2018, a small proportion of those engagements mentioned the free national helpline that could provide lifesaving resources.

“Only 10 percent of Americans who need substance abuse treatment resources receive it,” says Mark Dredze, the John C. Malone Associate Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and a co-author on the study. “Our study wanted to assess public awareness and engagement with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline—1-800-662-HELP—following a widely reported drug overdose.”

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