Language is a powerful tool for connection. The words we use are an important expression of our care and concern. At the same time, what and how we say things can cause harm to others. To help reduce stigma around substance use, treatment, and recovery, be mindful of the words you use and how you describe a person. Avoid labeling people based on an assumed characteristic, physical description, or trait. Use person-first language, which looks and sounds like a person with a substance use disorder or an individual using substances.
- Addiction Policy Forum
- Reducing the Stigma of Addiction, Johns Hopskins Medicine
- Respect to Connect: Undoing Stigma, National Harm Reduction Coalition
- Stigma Reduction, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Stigmatizing Imagery for Substance Use Disorder article review, Addiction Policy Forum
- Stop the Stigma
- Stories of Substance Use Stigma, March of Dimes
- Words Matter – Terms to Use and Avoid When Talking about Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
There are words and phrases that should be avoided: abuse, addict, opioid replacement, relapse, sober, and many more. Continued use of stigmatizing language creates a cycle of harmful beliefs that can prevent individuals from seeking help out of fear or shame. Learn stigmatizing terms by reviewing the resources. Also, language is not one-size-fits-all. People should be empowered to communicate their preferred language.
When consciously choosing words and phrases to talk about people, we can create a culture of support and care, whether with an individual, family group, or community.
One Voice for Volusia does not endorse these organizations and instead shares the information and content as educational tools for our community members.