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No More Addicts?!? Overhauling Addiction Vocabulary

stigma language

Words carry power and stigma with them.

Addict. Junkie. Crackhead. Tweaker. Drunk. Pill Popper. The list can go on and on with the labels that society AND those in recovery use to describe a person with substance use issues. Words carry power and thoughts along with them.

When we hear certain words, we immediately have an image or experience that pops into our head that we associate with it. As we know, the terms that are used to describe those who have substance use issues can be damning. We are not painted in a pretty light. The words that society uses to label us are ones that are meant to demean, vilify and cause pain.

There’s a movement within the recovery community, it’s not new, to help create a better terminology to use when discussing a person with substance use issues. As we know, change is slow moving when it comes to peoples attitudes and feeling towards those with substance use issues.

It starts within the recovery community. When we as a recovery community begin to use words that do not carry the stigmas that so many do, we can create an atmosphere where society will possibly listen and want to understand.

VPR.net recently wrote an article that discusses an initiative the Nashua Department of Public Health in New Hampshire has created to help combat the stigmatized language used to describe those with substance use issues. It is a fascinating look at how we can change the terms we use. This movement has been talked about since President Obama’s White House drug czar Michael BotticelliĀ sent a memo outlining recommendations to federal agencies, and co-authored an article containing similar recommendations in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Please click ‘Read More’ below to read this great article and see how you can help change the vocabulary used to discuss those with substance use issues.

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