As part of Arizona Public Media’s closer look at the opioid epidemic through its special series Arizona Addicted, this week we explored the power our words can have in the fight to overcome stigmas around addiction. Pima County Health Department program manager Mark Person offered insight into why terms like “junkie” and “addict” can end up harming someone with substance misuse disorder.
“The disease that the person is struggling becomes the identity of the person,” Person said. “We’re going to use the wrong language from time to time and that’s not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is the perception that we have about the person.”