The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) joins the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in observing National Addictions Awareness (NAAW), November 12-18, 2017.
This annual, national awareness week highlights issues and solutions to help address alcohol and other drug-related harms. The theme for NAAW 2017 is “Words Matter”, focusing on how the use of stigmatizing language can perpetuate false and harmful myths around substance use and addiction, and act as a barrier to recovery.
Why “Words Matter” with substance use and addiction,
- Words have a powerful impact on the way we see the world, and can perpetuate the stigma of substance use. The words we use can have a negative impact, even if we have no intention of causing harm.
- What is stigma? Stigma marks a person as different or damaged; it devalues and can dehumanize a person who has a substance use or other socially discredited health disorder.
- Language can affect how the public thinks about substance use and recovery. Research demonstrates that the use of certain words and terminology can create biases that influence how society treats people and groups.
- While words can cause and perpetuate stigma, they also have the power to undo stigma. Using the “language of recovery” can inspire hope and promote recovery.
Attached is a recovery language guide to help avoid using words that stigmatize substance use and addiction.
QUICK FACTS on substance use, addiction, and mental illness:
- In any given year 6.7 million Canadians will deal with a mental health issue. Substance use disorder is the second most common mental health problem.
- Surveys show that 20% of Canadians have met the criteria for a substance use disorder during their lifetime.
- People with mental illnesses are twice as likely to develop a substance use disorder than people without mental illnesses.