Dec 16, 2013

Language matters when talking about addiction

"We want to create a stigma against using stigmatizing language."
--John F. Kelly, Ph.D.

In an interview with WBUR's CommonHealth, Dr. John F. Kelly, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the new Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses the need to change the way we talk about addiction.

"Instead of using the term ‘substance abuse,’" he says, "many have adopted the term ‘substance misuse.’ And instead of describing someone as a substance abuser or alcohol abuser or drug abuser, you talk about a person who has a substance use disorder or is suffering from a substance use disorder. More broadly, it’s the ‘substance use disorder’ field.

"It seems a bit odd when we’re not used to saying these things now; new terms can feel somewhat awkward and strange and foreign at first. But people adapt remarkably quickly; start using the new terms and they become second nature. Human beings are kind of resistant to change and our language is somewhat habitual, so it’s hard to shift our language, but we want to create a stigma against using stigmatizing language."

Click here to read the full interview.

This video provides an overview of the Recovery Research Institute's work:

No comments: