The Discovery House Blog

14 Addiction Recovery Terms to Stop Using Now

September 12, 2016 Addiction Treatment
14 Addiction Recovery Terms to Stop Using Now

Have you even been talking to someone about addiction recovery and just shuddered at their choice of words? Perhaps you are new to addiction and you’d like to brush up on the correct terminology to use when talking with your family, or even clients and co-workers? This guide of addiction recovery terms is a helpful resource that will help you to know the difference between what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

14 Addiction Recovery Terms Never to Use

Even though a lot of these addiction recovery terms are still widely used, even by addiction treatment experts and medical professionals, they actually contribute to the perpetuation of the stigma of addiction. It’s important to note that changing the language that we use while talking about addiction can actually help reduce the stigma for the millions of American’s that struggle with it. Here is a list of words you should stop using and the appropriate terms you can use in their place.

Abuse

Even though this is a clinical term that is used by therapists, doctors, and medical professionals it perpetuates the stigma of addiction in three ways:

  1. It negates the idea that SUD’s (substance use disorders) are a medical condition, a disease
  2. It places all the blame on the person struggling with the illness and ignores the genetic, environmental, and psychological components
  3. It takes away any responsibility from those who sell or distribute the substances

Words to use instead: misuse, harmful use, hazardous use, substance use disorder

Abuser, Addict, Alcoholic

The above three terms are so much more than cringe-worthy, they are downright demeaning because they label the person who is struggling with addiction only by their illness. Instead, we should choose to see people with substance use disorders for what they are – people – that deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect of any other individual.

Words to use instead: person with alcohol/drug disease, person with a substance use disorder, patient or client

14 Addiction Recovery Terms to Stop Using Now

Clean, Dirty

Most commonly used to describe test result following a drug test, using the terms “clean” or “dirty” is not okay because it equates having a substance use disorder with filth.

Words to use instead: negative or positive

Consumer

Firstly, using the term consumer is very ambiguous in terms of what is actually being consumed. It may be helpful for treatment centers or treatment providers that are obviously using it to discuss consumers of their treatment services. However, it is not helpful when being used to describe someone who is in recovery.

Words to use instead: patient, client, people in recovery, recovery community

Drug Problem

Following along the same lines as abuser, addict, alcoholic this addiction term puts emphasis on the person who struggles with addiction. It also portrays the condition as an isolated issue that doesn’t consider the genetic, environmental, or psychological components of addiction.

Words to use instead: problems caused by alcohol/drugs, alcohol and drug-related problems

14 Addiction Recovery Terms to Stop Using Now

Habit or Drug Habit

Referring to a substance use disorder as a habit negates the medical nature and the entire disease concept of addiction. When you say it’s a drug habit, you are implying that there is choice involved and that it’s really a matter of having the will to control it.

Words to use instead: substance use disorder, alcohol and drug disorder, alcohol and drug disease

Problem Drinker

By slapping this label on someone who is experiencing an alcohol problem, you are depriving them of their individual identity. They become the “problem drinker” and nothing more, thus perpetuating the stigma of addiction.

Words to use instead: person experiencing an alcohol problem, person with a substance use disorder

Self-Help Groups

Addiction support groups are formed for the purpose of creating an environment for individuals who are experiencing a drug or alcohol problem to connect and support one another. You’ve probably heard that no one gets better all alone, or at least not the majority of people who struggle with addiction and self-help implies the opposite.

Words to use instead: recovery support groups, addiction support groups, mutual aid groups, going to a meeting

14 Addiction Recovery Terms to Stop Using Now

Substance Abuse

While this term is commonly used, even by our blog team here at TDH, it’s not the best one to use simply because of its association with the word “abuse.” When people think of abuse, they think of child abuse, domestic abuse, or sexual abuse. It also places most of the heft on the person who is struggling with the substance use disorder instead of the other way around.

Substance Abuser

See abuser, addict, alcoholic.

The above three addiction recovery terms are so much more than cringe-worthy, they are downright demeaning because they label the person who is struggling with addiction only by their illness. Instead, we should choose to see people with substance use disorders for what they are – people – that deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect of any other individual.

Words to use instead: person with alcohol/drug disease, person with a substance use disorder, patient or client

Substance Abuse Treatment

See substance abuse or abuser, addict, alcoholic. 

Words to use instead: treatment for alcohol and drug disease, treatment for alcohol and drug disorders, treatment for substance use disorders, addiction treatment, chemical dependency treatment

User

As with all of the above addiction recovery terms, this word contributes to the stigma because it labels the person with alcohol or drug disease by his/her behavior.

Words to use instead: person who uses alcohol/drugs, person engaged in risky use of substances

The differences between the addiction recovery terms not to use and the words suggested to use instead may seem trivial to you. After all, most people don’t mean to come off as insensitive or rude and they most definitely don’t intend to perpetuate the stigma of addiction. However, words hurt. And if all we can do to put an end to the stigma is slightly change our language, then why not at least try?

All information according to Substance Use Disorders: A Guide to the Use of Language

NEED HELP?
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY IS ONE CALL AWAY


WE'RE AVAILABLE 24/7

888.962.8208

REQUEST A CALL


  REQUEST A CALL



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Testimonials From Our Alumni

Thank You!

You're one step closer to getting help for you or a loved one. An addiction specialist will be in contact with you soon.

The Discovery House Confirmation Logo
Real Time Web Analytics