Unless there is a change in how we speak about drug users, it is easy to justify an environment where treatment and support is shrinking – which it is at an alarming rate.

31 May 2019

Confidence and self-belief are fragile states. For most of us they can either be nurtured or destroyed by the way others describe us. So consider for a moment what terms like “junkie”, “crack-head” or “zombie” do for the self-esteem of people who develop problems with drugs. 

Philadelphia -heroin

Even the less colloquial phrases – like drug-abuser and getting clean (or dirty)  are loaded with judgement. It would be unheard of describe a person with diabetes as having “dirty” blood results but this description is still used for positive drug tests.

The solution seems easy. We should just avoid using loaded language and derogatory terms to describe people who find themselves in this situation. After all this is not a niche group, hundreds of thousands of people have problems with drugs and alcohol, so a change in vocabulary could have a significant impact. 
The stigma associated with problem drug use is likely to have deterred many from seeking help as they either don’t recognise themselves as fitting with a stereotype or are perhaps too ashamed to speak to anyone.
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