The Power of Words – Alcohol and Other Drug use

Alcohol & Drug Foundation, 2019

A resource for healthcare and other professionals

There’s power in language. By focusing on people, rather than their use of alcohol and other drugs, and by choosing words that are welcoming and inclusive, professionals working with people who use alcohol and other drugs can reduce the impact of stigma.

Stigma in the form of language and actions can make people who use, or have used alcohol and other drugs, feel unwelcome and unsafe. This can stop them from seeking the services they need, which can negatively impact their health, wellbeing, employment and social outcomes.

How to use this guide

The Power of Words contains evidence-based advice on using non-stigmatising language, and features an easy-to-navigate, colour-coded directory of alternative words and phrases to suit a range of common scenarios.

It’s important that consistent, appropriate language is used when speaking about alcohol and other drug use in all contexts, be it speaking directly to a client or through indirect communication to a broad audience.

Recognising this, the recommendations within Power of Words have been developed to be easily adopted by healthcare professionals as well as anyone working in management, people and culture, education, marketing, the media or social media.

The Power of Words has been produced by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Association of Participating Service Users/Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (APSU/SHARC), Department of Health and Human Services, Harm Reduction Victoria and Penington Institute, following an extensive review of evidence-based literature as well as focus groups with people with lived experience and their families.

Drug and alcohol report uncovers burden in regional Australia

ABC Central West, 15/03/2019

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed alarming statistics about drug and alcohol use in regional Australia, and the difficulties faced by those seeking treatment.

The report found a 41 per cent increase in drug-induced deaths in regional and remote areas in the decade to 2017, compared to a 16 per cent spike in major cities.

Researchers said this could be attributed to opioid overdoses.

The report found there was a higher rate of people seeking drug and alcohol treatment in regional and remote communities in 2016–17, but they were likely to travel one hour or more to receive treatment.

It also said people in country areas were more likely to smoke, drink heavily, use drugs, and avoid exercise.

In debates about drug use, fun is important

The Conversation, February 8, 2019 6.07am AEDT

Young (and older) people use drugs and alcohol for fun, enjoyment and socialisation. Understanding the social nature of drug use reveals why fun-seeking is so compelling.

When people describe fun, they are often talking about an experience of social connection and belonging. Fun is not insignificant in human lives.

Understanding this might help to make sense of why “just say no” messages are so often ignored.