“GQ” Magazine Editor-in-Chief Discusses Impact of COVID-19 on Addiction and Art at Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research Event | News


by Aaron Conley

Drawing on personal experiences, Will Welch, the global editorial director of GQ, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on drug addiction, sobriety and artistry with Danny Winder, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, and Erin Calipari, assistant professor of pharmacology, at an event on April 21 .

The virtual gathering, hosted by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Basic Sciences, brought together Vanderbilt alumni and community members from across the United States. to fight COVID-19 offer parallel hope in the drug addiction space.

“From the pandemic, we learned how essential public health messages and implementation are, especially through ‘wear a mask’ messages. The “mask” of addiction is de-stigma, ”said Marnett. “If we can normalize the idea … that addiction is not a moral failure but rather a disease of the brain, increased research and availability of treatment could have a significant effect.”

Winder and Calipari then led a discussion with Welch on drug addiction, sobriety, and art through various topics from GQ magazine for masculinity, DMX for Brad Pitt and Hemingway for jazz.

“Telling stories about and about drug addiction, drug addiction, sobriety, legalization, decriminalization – all of these things have been an important part of the topics we covered at GQ under my leadership, ”Welch said.

The impact of celebrity stories on addiction

Discussing his first issue as editor-in-chief of GQ, Welch said that “it was important for me, as a self-identified person, to publish an article by one of our most accomplished writers examining the myth correlating substance use and abuse and creativity. The message that came out was that you don’t have to be self-destructive to be creative, iconic, or a great artist. It is a problem in all the arts, not just in music. But in rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, it’s so drug-related.

Winder, Calipari and Welch discussed the impact of fame on the addiction conversation through the example of the untimely death of rapper DMX, who battled drug addiction. Welch was particularly touched by a tweet that was shared with him:

“It gives me goosebumps to read this,” Welch said. “A sentiment that was spat out over the internet, shared over 28,000 times because DMX has succumbed on some level to a lifelong struggle with drug addiction. And I thought, ‘Wow. pretty important speech to meet on Twitter… because a celebrity has passed away. ‘”

“It also shows that people are ready to have this conversation,” Calipari continued, “and think about what addiction is and who it affects and how to help them, rather than sweeping it under the rug like that. has been done in the past. As this impacts the celebrities and the people we love and know, people feel: how do we fix this? “

The changing face of masculinity

“A much broader mission for me as editor-in-chief of GQ is to really shatter old ideas of masculinity, ”Welch said. “So we’re really interested in gender norms. There is a history of glossy fashion magazines like GQ being associated with creating or maintaining problematic societal norms: beauty standards, men must be masculine, women must be a certain type of woman. Rather than creating or maintaining these standards, it is really my project and that of my team to deconstruct these standards. And so, having conversations with men who happen to be famous, because that’s our raw material, about things that men should do effortlessly and coldly, like using drugs, and then leaving them out, and to be creative, and to be a big family man, but that’s just not possible. So deconstructing these standards is our goal on a larger level. “

The myth of moral failure

“We need to eliminate this myth of moral failure,” Winder said of the stigma surrounding drug addiction. An example “from the recent Derek Chauvin trial: using the ‘drugs in the system’ approach to imply that someone is responsible for their own death is something we need to get rid of. We want to increase the understanding that this is an organically caused disorder – that drugs and alcohol… produce molecular changes in our brains that develop this problem of substance use disorders. It has to be conveyed by science in a specific way. “

Basic science gives hope

“The incredibly rapid development and implementation of COVID vaccines gives hope in this time,” said Marnett. “At the same time, the incredible advancements in neuroscience research technologies give hope that basic science can make fundamental discoveries in the brain that will provide new drug treatment strategies to change the arc of this disease.”

Upcoming Events and Resources

VCAR posted an interview with musician Langhorne Slim about his personal experiences with drug addiction. Additionally, VCAR will be hosting an event with Jason Isbell in October.

“If you, or someone you know, is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction,” said Winder, “we encourage you to seek help from Resources. A great place to start on campus is Vanderbilt Recovery Support. , whose website also provides lines to a variety of web resources to facilitate those seeking treatment.

See the entire conference on YouTube.



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