image of barnstable county courthouse

Changing the Language of Addiction

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is releasing guidance entitled, Changing the Language of Addiction.  Developed in consultation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and other federal agencies and stakeholders, the draft report is intended to guide federal agencies in the accurate use of language regarding Substance Use Disorders.

The guidance addresses the role stigma plays in preventing people from seeking and receiving quality care, identifies scientific and medical literature demonstrating how certain terminology adversely affects the quality of health care and treatment outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders.

To read the Office of National Drug Control Policy, DRAFT: Changing the Language of Addiction, click here.

Substance use disorder (commonly referred to as addiction), is a chronic brain disorder from which people can and do recover. Despite an increase in the understanding of the science of substance use disorders and their effect on the brain, research shows that people with substance use disorders are viewed more negatively than others.  Negative attitudes have been found to adversely affect the quality of health care and treatment outcomes.  Because stigma and shame may deter help-seeking behavior among individuals with substance use disorders and their families, The Barnstable County Department of Human Services in conjunction with the Barnstable County Regional Substance Abuse Council produced the issue brief Stigma, Health Outcomes and Why “Words Matter” in September 2016 that highlights how language plays an important role in the way we think about people and how people think about themselves.

The Barnstable County Regional Substance Abuse Council (RSAC) has established a communication infrastructure across towns, providers, organizations, and individuals on Cape Cod to identify and address regional gaps and disparities in the substance use service provider system, maximize inter-agency collaboration and maximize funding and resource opportunities.  RSAC facilitates for a coordinated and comprehensive regional approach to substance use across the continuum of prevention, treatment, intervention, and recovery.