What we call people, the labels we assign them or their behaviours, give powerful messages about our value base. In the alcohol and drug field, there are a plethora of terms, many of which are stigmatizing and negatively labelling. People with alcohol and other drug problems should not be defined by their problem. Social work principles have always rejected pejorative terms and the homogenization of individuals. Where alcohol and drugs are concerned, these include terms such as ‘alcoholics’, ‘winos’, ‘addicts’ and ‘junkies’. Such terms do little to help motivate or support someone to change, nor do they accurately reflect the fact that people with alcohol and drug problems have a range of identities, including being professionals, partners, parents, family members or members of a local community. They are, first and foremost, people.
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