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Changing the Conversation About Addiction

February 7, 2018

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘addict?’ What about ‘getting clean?’ For most people, these words have negative connotations. As a society, we need to change the conversation about addiction.

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found people who struggled with substance abuse were more susceptible to negative stereotypes than people who suffered from other mental illnesses. We know that addiction and abuse are mental illnesses, not simply bad habits.

So, how do we change the conversation to help those who need it?

Do not let mental illness define someone. Instead of constantly using the word ‘abuser’ or ‘addict,’ try describing them as ‘someone who struggles with addiction.’ Our word choices matter and have a profound effect on how people feel about themselves and their decision to seek treatment.

When in doubt, always think about the person first. We don’t describe someone who is battling cancer as ‘cancer.’ So, we shouldn’t describe someone who is fighting addiction as the disease itself.

Dr. Barbara Herbert, Massachusetts chapter president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine said in an interview with the Boston Globe,

“[By using different words] the biggest thing we trade in is hope [and] our biggest enemy is hopelessness. That’s why I think language matters a lot.”

While we have a long way to go to reverse the stigma surrounding these mental illnesses, at CADS we work hard every day to better the lives of those who suffer from addiction disorders.

If someone you know is struggling with abuse or addiction, take the first step. Fill out the online assessment on our website. Then, come see us. At CADS, you and your loved one will be supported every step of the way.

Start changing the conversation today!

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