Choose Your Words Carefully

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me does not hold true for substance abuse. The words we use to describe a person who is chemically dependent upon a substance can either contribute to a negative stereotype, or can convey a medical condition. To reduce stigma against people with this disease, we need to change our language.

Guided Discussion:

What words have been used to describe you? Junkie, Dopehead, Freak, Loser, etc?

What are medical words to describe a person who has a substance use disorder?

Have you been discriminated against because you have a substance use disorder?

Did you cause your addiction? Can you control it?

Is addiction a moral weakness or a disease?

It is said that substance abuse creates brain changes that impairs memory, motivation,  impulse control and judgment. If this is true, can you make sound and rational decisions to cease your drug use?

Supplemental Reading:

“Here’s One Simple Way We Can Change The Conversation About Drug Abuse”, Matt Ferner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/03/drug-addiction-language_n_6773246.html

“Stop Talking Dirty: Clinicians, Language, and Quality of Care for the Leading Cause of Preventable Death in the United States”, Kelly, Wakeman & Saitz http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(14)00770-0/fulltext