I've heard some people say "things are too politically correct, you can't say anything without hurting someones feelings." Well language matters.

Stigma about mental health and substance use started ages ago. Some say it formally started with Harry Anslinger who headed the first U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics, now the DEA.

Many disparities are racially originated. Labels were created when the Native Americans smoked peyote and the Chinese building the railroads used opium.

Stereotypes continued with various public campaigns, such as “Winners Say NO to Drugs”and “Just Say NO”. Language matters. Words matter. People who have an addiction see themselves as losers, or bad people who can't just say no.

It is important to use terms that better reflect recovery, ie. Person in recovery, vs addict. Medications that assist in treatment vs Medication assisted treatment. Using other terms imply that medications will resolve the issues, however treatment is a necessary part of the process.

I am privileged to be working with a public behavioral health agency to implement medications that assist in treatment in the regional jail. Such services are

changing the narrative. Now jail can save lives and treats addiction.

The general public gets their language from the media. Changingthenarrative.news is a site that teaches journalist appropriate language when writing about health. Check it out. The site gives actual articles as examples, and offers a more informed narrative.

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