Breaking Up With The Word Addict

A great article on the word addiction – and all the connotations of the word –  from the Huffington Post.

“Addict'” is one of those words that so many of us use, largely without pausing to wonder if we should. We just take for granted that it’s totally OK to describe a human being with one word, “addict” — a word with overwhelmingly negative connotations to many people.

We don’t really do that for other challenging qualities that can have a serious impact on people’s lives. We don’t say, “my mother, the blind,” or “my brother, the bipolar.” We don’t say, “my best friend, the epileptic,” or “my nephew, the leukemia.”

We don’t do that because we intuitively understand how odd it would sound, and how disrespectful and insensitive it would be. We don’t ascribe a difficult state as the full sum of a person’s identity and humanity. Maia Szalavitz eloquently expressed similar frustration with terms like “substance abuser” in her recent piece at

When we do feel the need to reference a state of disability, challenge or disease when describing a human being, we say something like, “my mother has cancer,” or “my nephew has leukemia.” And we would almost certainly never let that be the onlything said about that person, something that defined them. We do not say or suggest that a person is their challenge. We remember that they are a person first, then if appropriate indicate their challenge as one factor of their existence.

Why can’t we be that intelligently sensitive with people struggling with drugs?” Read More…


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