Words Matter | Changing our words around Substance Use
By Samantha Doe, ARNP-FNP, MRH Primary Care Provider
Millinocket Regional Hospital • October 2022
With October being Substance Use Prevention Month, let’s talk about positive changes that are happening in the way we talk about substance use. There has been a longstanding societal stigma associated with drug and alcohol use, much of which is influenced by the way we talk about it. This stigma can come from obsolete beliefs that addiction is a moral or personal fault. Substance use disorder, or addiction, is now identified as a chronic, treatable disease from which persons CAN recover and lead healthy lives. For persons with substance use disorder, stigmatizing language can reduce their willingness to seek treatment, and to be honest with family, friends, and medical providers.
What can we do?
We can learn and implement non-stigmatizing language in our encounters and relationships. Using person-first language helps distinguish a person from their diagnosis. Changing our ways can be hard; and this is a learning curve for not only the general population but also medical providers.