The New Language of Addiction

Government agencies and the medical community are working toward changing addiction language.*

The current language is judgemental and labeling in nature to the individual. The updated language is neutral and descriptive of a brain disease that can be identified and treated.

We created the table below to summarize the updated language recommendations from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

New Medical Terms - Addiction

Feel free to copy and use the table in any way that may be useful to you, your colleagues and employees, or students.

*The American Medical Association has called on physicians to help reduce stigma and support treatment for substance use disorders. The American Society of Addiction Medicine and major addiction journals have urged the adoption of clinical, non-stigmatizing language. The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, replaced the earlier categories of substance “abuse” and “dependence” with “substance use disorder”  according to the Office National Drug Control Policy, October 2016.


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