Language of Addiction May Add to Stigmas, Cautions Chapters Capistrano

The way people talk about addiction and the words they choose can have a negative impact on how addiction is perceived, says Chapters Capistrano.

Battling addiction is hard enough already, but it can become even more difficult when people use negative or hurtful words when discussing it. The language used can turn people away from getting help or admitting that they have a problem. Chapters Capistrano has released a statement to the press regarding the need to change the language surrounding addiction and recovery.

“People don’t always think about what they’re saying and the impact it can have,” says Susie Shea, co-owner of the California rehab center. “Calling someone an addict or a substance abuser can be hurtful because it doesn’t differentiate the person from their disease. Using terms like ‘person with a substance use disorder’ or someone ‘in recovery from addiction’ is often preferred.”

There are plenty of other words that can be harmful as well. According to the Boston Globe advocates believe that “commonly used words – ‘junkie,’ ‘abuser,’ even ‘substance abuse’ and ‘addict’ – can discourage people from seeking help, induce health professionals to treat patients harshly, and exacerbate the stigma that bedevils people suffering from drug addiction.”

Such pejorative language influences people’s attitudes about addiction and can make those in need of treatment or in recovery feel as though they have little support or hope of change. People are so much more than their disease, and other chronic diseases are not held with the same negative view as addiction often is.

Calling addiction a “habit” implies that there is choice involved, saying someone is “clean” when they have no drugs in their system would alternately mean they are somehow “dirty” when they are under the influence of drugs. Says Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and former chief of Massachusetts’ Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, “We don’t say for a diabetic whose blood sugar spikes that they have a ‘dirty blood sugar.’” So why does this type of language continue to be used for those struggling with addiction?

“It’s time to change how we talk about and view addiction,” says Shea. “We don’t want to shame or embarrass people away from getting treatment. We want them to realize that they have support and recovery is possible. Addiction is a chronic disease, but with the right strategies and resources, people can live a substance-free lifestyle. There is hope.”

Shea encourages people to think twice about the terminology they use and how it comes across to others. Just because certain terms have always been used doesn’t make them okay, and change starts with each person taking responsibility for their own actions. According to Tom Coderre, chief of staff for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “If we want more people to seek treatment and we want public policy makers to make treatment available, changing the lexicon is going to be really important.”

“The time for change is now,” says Shea. “Substance use disorders are a huge topic of discussion lately, so let’s starting changing the terminology we use when we talk about them.”


Chapters Capistrano is a luxury drug and alcohol treatment center located in the city of San Clemente in Orange County, California, with two beautiful ocean-view homes. Specializing in all types of substance abuse, Chapters offers flexible treatment programs that are designed to offer greater confidence in addiction recovery. With a thorough approach to detox, counseling and mental health, this center has delivered many success stories. In addition to offering alternative approaches to conventional recovery, Chapters is also recognized for providing guest comfort with exceptional accommodations, private rooms and cell and laptop allowance. Those searching to begin a new “Chapter” in addiction recovery are encouraged to contact the facility today.

Media Contact
Company Name: Chapters Capistrano
Contact Person: Marvin Kimble
Phone: 949-287-8248
Address:1525 Buena Vista
City: San Clemente
State: CA
Country: United States