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When it comes to addiction, Americans’ word choices are part of the problem

Who gets better medical care in the United States: “addicts,” or “people with substance use disorders”?

The terms, of course, mean functionally the same thing. But in the field of addiction medicine, the question presents something of a crisis. Even as drugs and alcohol claim 200,000 lives each year, many who seek addiction treatment are greeted by the harsh, stigmatizing labels that many Americans don’t think twice about: Words like addict, alcoholic, junkie, abuser, or worse.


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