Language Matters

Language is powerful – especially when talking about substance use. Stigmatizing language perpetuates negative perceptions. “Person first” language focuses on the person, not the disorder.

When discussing substance use be aware that substance use is just one aspect of who these individuals are. Please allow patients/clients to use whatever language they choose to refer to themselves or others, this tool should not be used to condescend or correct those that we serve.

    Say This....                                                                                 Not That....
  • Person with substance use disorder
  • Person living in recovery
  • Person living in an addiction
  • Person arrested for drug violation
  • Chooses not to at this point
  • Medicine is a tool
  • Had a setback
  • Maintained recovery
  • Positive drug screen
  • Used needles/syringes
  • Addict, junkie, druggie
  • Ex-addict/clean
  • Battling/suffering from an addiction
  • Drug offender
  • Non-compliant/bombed
  • Medicine is a crutch
  • Relapsed
  • Stayed clean
  • Dirty drug screen
  • Dirty needles/syringes
Recovery Dialects