Most of the major media outlets, and local newspapers chose to ignore these recommendations. Those highly charged word get the readers attention.
This hospital has not been very effective in dealing with people with addiction problems either. As a religious hospital they have been very judgmental about a lot of things. For years they threatened and released addicts, and people with alcohol addiction. This hospital also re framed people with not very good outcomes at their neurosurgery clinic as opioid addicts, in order to avoid liability. This hospital has been under performing for decades. Local media depends on their big advertising budget, so they no longer run the facts.
Here is an example of a researcher that has gotten a lot of attention, referring to chronic pain patients as “Habitual Prescription Opioid Users.
This ‘researcher” overstated the and misreported the finding in this research. During a radio interview he agreed with his interviewer that “prescription opiates lead to crime.” This guy got a lot of attention form the marijuana industry, and even used this survey to try to get the state to allow the use of marijuana for opioid addiction. New Mexico has the highest rates of heroin addiction, suicide and joblessness in the nation.
I would also like to see the use of “clean/dirty” replaced “sober/using.” A drug user is not “dirty” and someone who does not use (certain) drugs is not “clean.”
For the record, I am an alcoholic albeit a recovering alcoholic with 39 years, 9 months, and 21 says of continuous recovery. I made two phone calls on September 1, 1977: first to a local answering service on Long Island to ask for help; second, to my wife, who was the first person to hear me say: “I am in trouble. I need help. I am an alcoholic.” Those two calls changed my life, removed my compulsion to drink alcoholically as I had since age 13. I understand I have a disease. Physicians have recognized alcoholism as a disease since the 1950’s.
I would go so far as to make a distinction between tolerance & withdrawal, as compared to dependence, or even some other term, perhaps, indicating the body become used to the substance. If you look up “cessation syndrome” or the equivalent for a lot of SSRI’s or other psych medications, you find that some of those can be very nasty to come off of cold turkey. But you rarely hear anyone talk about SSRI “addiction” or Zyprexa “addiction.” And such comments are typically dismissed out of hand. The stigma attached to the words “addict” and “addiction” are another story. I’ve worked in substance disorder treatment and had to explain to someone who never misused opiates that they didn’t have to go to rehab to stop taking them and that they didn’t have a substance use disorder because there was no behavioral component– no continued use despite adverse consequences, in fact no adverse effects outside of the physical discomfort of stopping.
Kudos to Maia Szalavitz for her insight into a long-standing challenge for the recovery community. While there have been countless efforts to address the use of language as a means to change perceptions, there are still far too many instances where the incorrect terminology is used to describe a condition and a person with said condition. The mention of the mutual support group use of language is perhaps the biggest challenge, because it has the largest following. There, we must wait and hope that the younger generations will move to leadership positions within those groups and start a process of re-evaluating the benefits vs. the labeling, in the name of tradition, or, historical allegiance to a movement that perhaps needs to be modified to fit the new research findings and learned experience.
For now we must all redouble our efforts to spread the word about the AP’s adoption of new language; we must encourage others to adopt it including the major newspapers that are still in print, and we must have all recovery-oriented organizations keep a copy on the desk as a reference.
Excellent article! I have a brother who misuses alcohol – badly, although he tries to stop. Due to a motor vehicle accident 40+ years ago, several concussions since, plus hereditary migraines I am dependent on opioids. The opioid issue is usually much harder to explain to the average person than the alcohol.
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