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  • Language, Substance Use Disorders, and Policy: The Need to Reach Consensus on an “Addictionary”

Language, Substance Use Disorders, and Policy: The Need to Reach Consensus on an “Addictionary”

Subjects: Introductory Type: Journal Articles Tags: Medication Assisted Treatment, Education, Research, Substance Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, Opioid, Stigma, Lexicons

The language used to describe health conditions reflects and influences our attitudes and approaches to addressing them, even to the extent of suggesting that a health condition is a moral, social, or criminal issue. The language and terminology we use is particularly important when it comes to highly stigmatized and life-threatening conditions, such as those relating to alcohol and other drugs. Scientific research has demonstrated that, whether we are aware of it, the use of certain terms implicitly generates biases that can influence the formation and effectiveness of our social and public health policies in addressing them.

In this article, the authors detail the conceptual and empirical basis for the need to avoid using certain terms and to reach consensus on an “addiction-ary.” The authors conclude that consistent use of agreed-upon terminology will aid precise and unambiguous clinical and scientific communication and help reduce stigmatizing and discriminatory public health and social policies.