August 16, 2017 — Words matter when trying to explain a problem to someone who can help. That’s especially true when the issue involves addiction because both those living with addiction and their loved ones must understand the effects of the disease.
In an editorial published Wednesday on philly.com, the writer shares one way to break the stigma surrounding substance addiction.
At Malvern Institute, we applaud news organizations and journalists for choosing appropriate words and phrases to help further understanding on addiction. Eliminating certain terminology reflects research that shows addiction is a disease, not a choice.
The author shares how otherwise in-depth reporting misses the mark on covering the opioid epidemic:
There is incredible, boots-on-the-ground journalism happening, yet I still stumble too often on repeated use of words such as addict, user, or worse to describe people with substance-use disorder.
Covering the opioid epidemic, especially the heroin crisis unfolding in the streets and rowhouses of Philly, is no simple task. It takes heart and dedication. But by calling people addicts, journalists are missing the point and perpetuating the stigma that needs to be abandoned for the tide to turn.
Journalists are often the strongest, most authoritative voices the public hears on major issues. Part of the job of being that voice is avoiding further injuring people who, in this case, are already vastly disadvantaged and marginalized, thanks to their disease.
Read the full editorial on philly.com.