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March 25, 1974


Author Affiliations

Rochester, Minn

JAMA. 1974;227(12):1380. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230250012003

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To the Editor.—  DuPont claims that we took him to task for using loaded language because he used the word "epidemic" to describe the increase in heroin addiction during the last decade. He argues that "epidemic" and the use of the intellectual tools of epidemiology have been the target of several writers (including us, presumably). He closes his case by stating that the term "epidemic" describing recent experience with heroin addiction is neither loaded nor unscientific, but that it sheds light on a difficult problem. His letter is a model of objectivity. In a moment of self-doubt, we reexamined our original reference to DuPont's article in the New England Journal of Medicine (285:320, 1971), to review our criticism of his language.Here is how he began his article: Washington, DC, is engulfed by an alarming epidemic of heroin addiction. It is now estimated that there are 16,800 heroin addicts in