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Language and stigma: terms used in the area of alcohol and other drugs

This article provides a present-day reflection, focusing mainly on Brazil, of terms used by society at large (and frequently by health workers) to refer to people who use drugs. The greater part of the scientific literature is published in English and, therefore, Brazilian literature does not yet contain standardizations of adequate terms in the area of alcohol and other drugs. This results in a series of doubts and (uncritical) reproduction of terms that have not been used in the scientific literature for more than 10 years.1 The intention is to provide references rather than to rigidly standardize these terms, since language – whether used in clinical practice or in scientific literature – is dynamic. A panorama will be presented of current discussion and alternatives on which researchers, health workers, the press and the population can base themselves in order to reduce stigma in the area of alcohol and other drugs.


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