When it comes to addiction, Americans’ word choices are part of the problem

“Words matter tremendously, and much of the language we use when we talk about addiction is very dissimilar from the language we use for other health conditions."

Who gets better medical care in the United States: “addicts,” or “people with substance use disorders”?

The terms, of course, mean functionally the same thing. But in the field of addiction medicine, the question presents something of a crisis. Even as drugs and alcohol claim 200,000 lives each year, many who seek addiction treatment are greeted by the harsh, stigmatizing labels that many Americans don’t think twice about: Words like addict, alcoholic, junkie, abuser, or worse.

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