Stigma & Recovery Dialects

Someone you know is facing a substance use disorder right now. How we talk about substance use in our everyday lives has an impact on how likely that person is to seek and successfully complete treatment. Adjusting our language is one of the simplest ways we can support each other and reduce stigma and discrimination.

Instead of This...Say This...
Addict / junkie / druggiePerson with a (serious) substance use disorder
Addicted to XPerson with a (serious) X use disorder
AlcoholicPerson with a (serious) alcohol use disorder
Clean screen / clean testTesting negative for
Dirty screen / dirty testTesting positive for substances
Drug habitSubstance use disorder; compulsive or regular substance use
Drug / substance abuserPerson with a substance use disorder
Drug offenderPerson arrested for drug violation
Former / reformed addict or alcoholicPerson in (long-term) recovery
RelapsedHad a setback / resumed use
Stayed cleanMaintained recovery

Want to learn more about stigma?

Check out these resources:

Your Words. Your Power. Choose Kindness.

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