Understanding Terms

I know that language matters, because we live with the stigma that surrounds our disease of addiction. Healthcare professionals refer to addictions as “substance use disorders,” or SUDs. I use the word “addiction” to describe myself before recovery, and some of the storytellers do too, but you don’t have to identify with this word. You can substitute “actively using” or “misusing” or another descriptor you’re comfortable with.

I use the terms “addiction” as shorthand for substance use disorders, and to cover all forms of SUDs, including alcohol and drug use disorders, because I believe the root causes of SUDs are likely the same, whatever substance you’re misusing. I use “sober” to include drugs as well as alcohol.  

Substance “abuse” is still rampant in our lexicon today, even for national organizations who are trying to help, like SAMSHA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  The proper word is “misuse.” “Abuse” implies we have a choice about being in addiction, and we don’t. It’s a disorder, or disease.

I often use “rooms of recovery” to mean the actual rooms we gather in for meetings or, more generally, to designate gatherings of sober people.