Words Have Power


The terms addict and alcoholic have fallen out of favor over the years as we have learned that labels can be reductionist, counterproductive, even harmful. Using more descriptive language such as “people with a substance use disorder” or “people who are predisposed to addiction,” while imperfect, both at least acknowledge first the human and then the descriptor. However we describe our fellow humans who are tangled up in some form of addiction, we do know with absolute certainty that they are not morally flawed or ethically challenged or even in any way defective. They have an affliction of sorts of the body, mind, and spirit (meant in a nonreligious way) that impacts their ability to moderate their substance use and achieve wellbeing. As a rule, people who are predisposed to addiction are a brilliant, creative lot, who are deeply thoughtful, sensitive, and compassionate. In active addiction, they struggle navigating life and living, are challenged to follow their own moral code and slog through their journey as if they are walking through fields of deep mud. Active addiction is exhausting for them and for those that love them. The person who is recovering, or some would say recovered, is gifted with innate resilience and willpower, a past that allows them to easily and empathetically step into the shoes of those that struggle, and a vision of a hopeful future filled with possibilities.


Resource: https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/addiction-science/words-matter-preferred-language-talking-about-addiction