Scott Washburn discusses public figures’ privacy with MinnPost

Scott Washburn, assistant director of Augsburg College’s StepUP® program, was one the experts interviewed by MinnPost for an article examining public figures’ right to privacy as well as the rights of the public figures’ significant others. The article examined an overarching theme that probed, “How much of a candidate’s own personal life should be made available for public debate?”

In responding to a question on whether it is appropriate for the mental health or addiction history of a political spouse or other family member to be made public, Washburn argued that sort of political playmaking goes over the line.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate at all,” Washburn said. “The candidate is running, not the family member. The electorate is voting for the candidate, not the family member. The family of a presidential candidate is going to be dragged into the public eye, but I think it’s important to respect some boundaries here. It’s an issue of respect and privacy. The candidate would be fair game from my perspective, but I don’t think family members should be. It just reflects how low things have gone in this political race.

All that being said, if the family member chooses to publically disclose his or her personal history, then that is a different conversation.”

Read additional responses from Washburn in “When is a public figure’s mental health or addiction status off limits?” on the MinnPost site.

Scott Washburn is interviewed by MinnPost

MinnPostScott Washburn, assistant director of Augsburg College’s StepUP® program and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, was one of three experts interviewed by MinnPost in an article examining the impact of Minnesota’s legalization of medical marijuana on teens’ views of the drug. Citing multiple studies, the article explains that there is growing concern that recent legalization of the drug will result in a lower perceived risk, which could result in increased teen use.

In the article, Washburn agrees that there is a correlation between the perceived risks associated with using a substance and actual use of it. He references an ongoing University of Michigan study that tracks high school students’ views and habits regarding a variety of substances. In looking at their data on tobacco and marijuana use, he says, “What’s noteworthy is that in 2010, those two lines crossed. Tobacco use started to decline in 1998 continuing up to 2014. But marijuana use continued to go up and eventually was higher than tobacco use.” Washburn attributes this reversal to our culture’s “significant shift in attitude about marijuana use.”

Washburn then outlines his approach to unraveling what teens and students sometimes see as mixed messages, that the drug is medically beneficial while being potentially addictive and harmful. “I tell my students that just because a drug can harm you doesn’t also mean that it can’t help you,” he says in the article. He adds that, “Vicodin and Oxycodone are legal drugs, but just because they are prescribed by physicians for valid reasons doesn’t mean that they can’t be harmful and dangerous when used incorrectly.”

Read: ‘It’s just pot’: Does legalization of medical marijuana change teens’ attitudes about it? on the MinnPost site.

Augsburg’s StepUP program receives media mention

MinnPostScott Washburn, assistant director for Augsburg College’s StepUP program was mentioned on Minnpost.com.

The StepUP program, which aims to help students with histories of addiction thrive on campus, was mentioned as part of an article about P.E.A.S.E. Academy, which is a similar local program at the high school level.

Washburn, who is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, said that the biggest threat for students dealing with addiction is being around their nearest and dearest on campus. “We know from research as well as experience that the No. 1 relapse trigger is the influence of peers,” Washburn said. 

Visit the MinnPost website to read the article. Learn more about StepUP on its program site.