By Corinne Dolman, Director, Substance Use, Interior Health
The language we use to refer to people with substance use disorders can elicit many negative stereotypes. Substance use disorders are more highly stigmatized than any other health condition.
This is largely due to the misinformed notion that addiction is some form of moral failing. Research shows many people with substance use challenges have also experienced trauma and violence, making them vulnerable and putting them at further risk of self-stigma by internalizing the negative messages they hear all around them.
Stigmatizing language can also have serious negative impacts on the family and friends of those with a substance use disorder, or those lost to overdose. Stigma is a major barrier preventing people from getting well. When we use stigmatizing language, we prevent people from reaching out for help. This applies to the person with a substance use disorder, but also to their loved ones. The shame caused by stigma also drives people to use alone, putting them at increased risk of harm.
Source: The Nelson Daily