Why Language Matters When It Comes To Addiction – PodCast Segment

Click on the ‘Play’ button below to hear this segment: “The Takeaway: Language” NYPR, WNYC and PRI

Words can carry huge weight for those struggling with addiction.

Last month, The Takeaway spoke with an addiction recovery activist named Ryan Hampton, who’d been in recovery from heroin addiction for more than three years. Host Todd Zwillich asked him a question about addicts like himself. Here was his response.

“This is really important to me, I want to make it clear, I actually do identify as a person in sustained recovery, especially when I’m talking to people on the radio and outside my own personal recovery community. And that’s an important distinction for me, because for a very long time the media and the culture has called us addicts, and it has stigmatized us and it has put us into this box. I am so much more than an addict today,” he said.

Illustration of a Woman Yelling

That stigma has tangible consequences. Addict, junkie, user, abuser — experts say that kind of language can actually change how a person is perceived and thus treated medically. And it can affect how willing someone is to seek care in the first place.

Here, The Takeaway sits down with John F. Kelly, associate professor of psychiatry in the field of addiction medicine at Harvard Medical School, whose 2010 research tested two different ways of referring to someone dealing with addiction. His work turned up important results for our understanding of language and addiction.

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich.

Link to original article here.