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Comment & Response
February 21, 2017

Substance Use Terminology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Boston University School of Public Health, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2017;317(7):768-769. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.20469

To the Editor We share the concerns of the authors of a Viewpoint about the prevalent use of stigmatizing language to refer to unhealthy substance use and the people afflicted by it.1 Movements at the national level are occurring to encourage the use of nonstigmatizing language, such as the addiction terminology statement by the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors,2 which marks an important step in developing a consensus on stigmatizing language among medical journals worldwide. In particular, it discourages the use of “dirty,” “clean,” “abuse,” and “abuser.”

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