Moving Beyond 'People First' Language- A Glossary of Contested Terms in Substance Use

Published by
Scottish Drugs Forum

Language is powerful in shaping view and opinions about groups of people.

By changing the way we discuss substance use issues, we can start to reverse harmful stereotypes about addiction.

Drug use is heavily stigmastised. People who use drugs, and often those around them, can internalise this stigma.

This resource presents and explains terms that can be a source of stigma. It introduces the reader to the notion and importance of using person-first language so that we remain aware that we are talking about people and avoid 'othering'.

For example, we could say "people who use drugs" instead of "drug users".

The report aims to improve communication and shared understanding across the drugs field by increasing understanding of the language used both in everyday conversation and discussion of drug issues and in more specialist environments. 


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