What is the Speakers Bureau?
Our speaker’s bureau can provide knowledgeable, inspiring speakers with a wide variety of training, background and life experiences. You might choose a topic such as:
- Stigma – How our language can reduce stigma
- The joy of recovery: a personal perspective
- How communities, employers or loved ones can respond to substance use disorders and support recovery
- The science of addiction
- Research on long-term recovery
- Or let us know how we can help. Our bureau consists of people in recovery, family and allies, health care providers and researchers.
If you want to care for something, you call it a ‘flower.’ If you want to kill something, you call it a ‘weed.’
“Research shows that the language we use to describe this disease can either perpetuate or overcome the stereotypes, prejudice and lack of empathy that keep people from getting treatment they need. Scientific evidence demonstrates that this disease is caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, not moral weakness on the part of the individual. Our language should reflect that.” Drug Czar Botticelli (2017)
Stigma remains the biggest barrier to addiction treatment faced by patients. The terminology used to describe addiction has contributed to the stigma.
You Can Help
“Specifically, we make an appeal for the use of language that (1) respects the worth and dignity of all persons (“people-first language”); (2) focuses on the medical nature of substance use disorders and treatment; (3) promotes the recovery process; and (4) avoids perpetuating negative stereotype and biases through the use of slang and idioms.” (Broyles, Binswanger, Gordon, et al., 2014)
Person first language say “person with a substance use disorder” not “Junkie, Addict, Crack-head, Abuser.” See the chart below for additional suggestions.
Language of Recovery
|Current Terminology||Alternative Terminology|
|Treatment is the goal / Treatment is the only way into recovery||Treatment is an opportunity for initiation into recovery (one of multiple pathways into recovery)|
|Untreated addict/alcoholic||Individual not yet in recovery|
|Substance abuse||Substance use disorder/addiction/substance misuse|
|Drug of choice/abuse||Drug of use|
|Relapse prevention||Recovery management|
|Pathology-based assessment||Strength/asset-based assessment|
|Focus is on total abstinence from all illicit and non-prescribed substances the clinician identifies||Focus is on the drug the client feels is creating the problems|
|A drug is a drug is a drug||Each illicit substance has unique interactions with the brain; medication, if available, is appropriate|
|Relapse||Recurrence/return to use|