The term “addict” is a harsh one, there’s no denying that. But using this term to talk about people also does them a great disservice as human beings and trivializes the many other wonderful features of that person, by simply defining them as their illness.
Using The Term “Addict”
Using the term “addict” turns someone into a personified illness by giving them a name that identifies them as nothing more than the disease they suffer from.
Using language such as person with addiction or person with X on the other hand highlights the issue at hand without reducing them to a stigmatized outcast.
In recovery, it is a common practice that one should accept their addiction and define themselves by what they have and struggle with. This establishes a person’s illness as a core part of their being, something internal and eternal, and something which is inescapable. This creates a situation in which someone will always be an “addict,” first, never a person first.
In the mental health field, it’s important to recognize those with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or any other mental health illness, as a person with anxiety, a person with depression, etc. Defining someone as an anxious person or as a depressive puts the blame on the individual rather than the illness that is affecting them.
People First Language Second
This practice is even endorsed by the CDC, a guide to talking about disabilities and people with disabilities can be found on their website and they explain that “People first language is used to speak appropriately and respectfully about an individual with a disability. People first language emphasizes the person first not the disability. For example, when referring to a person with a disability, refer to the person first by using phrases such as: “a person who …”, “a person with …” or, “person who has…””
People are more than their illnesses and the language used when referring to people and their struggles should reflect that.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by The Intern