The Council made a subtle but important change to our name. Sometimes terminology used in discussion of alcohol and other drugs can suggest that problematic use of substances are the result of personal failing; that some people lack the willpower or character to control their substance use. However, research shows addictive substances can lead to dramatic changes in brain function and reduce a person’s ability to control his or her substance use. Language is important. Even highly trained clinicians are more likely to assign blame rather than therapeutic measures when a subject is referred to as a “substance abuser” or an “addict.” Or worse. So here is the big concern. Negative bias, shame, and concerns about social, economic and legal consequences of disclosing problems with alcohol or drugs can deter individuals and their families from seeking help..
Consequently, the American Medical Association, The American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy are recommending that we all work toward reducing stigma by improving our terminology. The Council’s Board of Directors recently approved the elimination of the word “abuse” from the Council’s name. And now that new name is legally registered with our Secretary of State. We are, simply put, The Council on Alcohol & Drugs. By this action, we are doing our small part to reduce negative bias AND negative impact.