The use of people-first language is spreading to the rehabilitation community. People struggling with addiction have been finding the same feeling of marginalization as people with disabilities in regards to language.
People-first language refers to structuring phrases in a way that prioritizes the individual before the disability. Using terms such as “people with disabilities” instead of “disabled people” gets rid of the dehumanizing effect that people with disabilities have struggled with.
Now people who struggle with addiction are using the same kind of approach to language. Instead of referring to people with terms like “addict”, activists in the rehabilitation community are calling for words that give them dignity and respect as they struggle with addiction. According to Dr. Capretto of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, using people-first language will help people in the rehabilitation community work through their illnesses and not be afraid of the stigma attached to their recovery process.
Utilizing people-first language is not only an important awareness for people struggling with addiction but also a great partnership between the rehabilitation community and disability community in the search for respect as individuals in society.