No use for the word ‘addict’
I learned something while attending my daughter’s graduation from Yale’s Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency program.
In his closing comments, the program director thanked the faculty for training the graduates to maintain their humanity as they developed their clinical skills. One comment stood out. He thanked one of the doctors for obliterating the word “addict” from their vocabulary. This caught my attention and I later asked my daughter to tell me more.
She explained that they have been trained to speak of patients as having addictions or addiction disorders — just as they would speak of a patient with any other illness. For example, we say a patient has heart disease or cancer. Now when she hears someone referred to as an “addict” her stomach turns. She understands how this label can strip away one’s humanity, create a framework of preconceived judgments and diminish the caregiver’s compassion.
Although the Journal Sentinel can be applauded for its coverage of the addiction crises across the community and state, I, too, now cringe when I read the word “addict.” Perhaps it is time for outstanding journalism to catch up with best medical practices.