The country is facing a serious opioid crisis. However, the language we often use to describe people suffering from addiction is often inaccurate and mischaracterizes the true nature of the condition, which the medical community refers to as a diagnosable and treatable illness. Many healthcare providers are urging communities to revise the language they use to discuss substance addiction and how it refers to individuals with this condition. For communities to effectively address the issues surrounding the opioid crisis, it’s essential to tear down barriers—and that includes using negative terms to describe individuals with a substance use disorder.

The Language of Stigmatization

Referring to someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol as an “abuser” is an example of negative language. Healthcare providers have suggested that the term “abuser” suggests that the individual has willful mal-intent. Moreover, they say that this term blurs the lines, which are distinctive, between individuals who are under a doctor’s care and dependent on opioid treatment for pain management and someone, for instance, who purchases an illicit drug on the streets. The negative connotations of words like “addict” can be a barrier for many people to accept that they have a health problem—and to seek out treatment for it.

In short, there is a lot of nuance when it comes to language and when it comes to addiction. Lumping everyone with a dependency together using terms that are largely negative is unfair to the individuals in light of the health problems they are facing. To effectively address the opioid crisis in communities, people can begin by using terms that are accurate and fair.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an opioid addiction or an addiction to some other drug or alcohol, please contact The Bergand Group today. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others who are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction treatment and recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.