Tag Archives: shame

Stop Using the Word “Relapse” for the Chronic Disease of Addiction. Instead use the phrase “Recurrence of Symptoms.”

The language we use to talk about addiction and recovery can cause personal shame and perpetuate public stigma against people with substance dependence. It is time to stop using the shame based word "relapse" for the chronic disease of addiction. Instead, use the phrase "recurrence of symptoms." It is more accurate, reduces shame and encourages people to re-enter treatment for a flare up when symptoms of addiction return. Listen in to this opiate recovery support group as they discuss this topic.

Discussion Guide:

What's the difference between stigma and shame?

Do you feel shamed by other's perception of your disease?

No one ever says "I want to be a drug addict one day." Yet, many people believe that you chose the life, therefore an addiction is your own damn fault and you have a moral failing.  How do you explain the process in which you became dependent?

No one is exempt from bias and stigmas, even within the recovery community. How do we best correct ourselves in order to stop reinforcing the stigma?

It is time to stop using the shame based word "relapse" for the chronic disease of addiction. No other chronic diseases refer to symptoms of their disease as a relapse. Instead, use the phrase "recurrence of symptoms." Do you agree?

Supplemental Reading:

Michael Weiner, PhD, MCAP, Eliminate Stigma from the Inside Out, http://www.addictionpro.com/article/treatment/eliminate-stigma-inside-out