Changing language about drug use

Language is important. It is important to be careful not to stifle expressiveness, and avoid being too PC about how things are described.

But it is also important to describe things accurately and with consideration what effect negative language can have, especially on people with mental health and addiction problems.

I have mixed feelings about this:

That was retweeted by the NZ Drug Foundation.

Some of those substitutions seem sensible, but some appear to me to be fudging far too much.

Pretty much all of us are drug users, be it prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, or potentially harmful illicit drugs. Actually prescription drugs, alcohol and cannabis can be harmful as well as beneficial or benign.

Some thought should be given to what sort of language we use, but we shouldn’t have to sanitise language so that it becomes ridiculously inoffensive – ‘politically correct’ language itself can be offensive.

47 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  January 11, 2018

    Oh that’s right it’s no longer important to tell the user that they once ignored the law which if they had respected they would not have the addiction.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 11, 2018

      One thing that strikes me is that it seems to be taking personal responsibility away from drug users/addicts.

      • Kevin

         /  January 12, 2018

        And they should be taking personal responsibility. Most people who use drugs use responsibly and without causing themselves or others problems. It’s actually quite easy *not* to become an addict.

        1. If you have an addictive personality don’t go anywhere near recreational drugs.
        2. If you don’t have an addiction personality and choose to do recreational drugs watch your dosage and frequency. In this day and age there is no excuse for not knowing what dosage and frequency constitutes misuse for a particular drug.
        3. Never ever use recreational drugs to self-medicate. It’s a recipe for addiction.

        All addicts I believe become addicts because they break at least one of the above rules.

    • phantom snowflake

       /  January 11, 2018

      You”re clearly out of your depth here. For starters you equate addiction with “ignor(ing) the law” when the vast majority of addictions involve legal (including prescribed) substances. Also, your idea that avoiding (drug) addiction is merely a matter of observing the law would be laughable to the myriad of addicts who use drugs in a desperate attempt to cope with severe trauma/ sexual and physical abuse. Your comment reeks of a moral superiority and sanctimony which is making me nauseous.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 12, 2018

        People ‘self-medicate’ with various things. Food, drink, drugs, tobacco-it does nothing to help and just creates more problems.

        It is not being sanctimonious to say that people must take responsibility for their own actions. If they don’t, no amount of help will be any good. I stopped smoking because I wanted to, not to please anyone else. An alcoholic I knew had to want to stop drinking FOR HERSELF. It was only when this really dawned on her and the rest of us had stopped propping her up that she sought help and went to the excellent Hanmer Springs place.

        The only person who can avoid or stop addiction is the one who’s using the substance.Yes, others can help with this, of course.

        • phantom snowflake

           /  January 12, 2018

          A simplistic, black and white response which ignores the bulk of my comment. To be clear, I was replying to Noel and did not suggest that it is “sanctimonious to say that people must take responsibility for their own actions.” What you ACT Party “personal responsibility” types miss is that personal choice/responsibility is only one of many factors which impact on addiction.
          “The only person who can avoid (my emphasis) or stop addiction is the one who’s using the substance. WRONG. As someone who has wide professional and personal experience in the area of addictions, I can assure you that if “we” were to stop abusing and neglecting our children, their rate of addictions as adults would be dramatically lower.

          • Kevin

             /  January 12, 2018

            A high proportion of heroin addicts have been sexually abused. But that’s not an excuse for being a heroin addict as the vast majority of victims of sexual abusers don’t become heroin addicts. It may be a reason, but it isn’t an excuse.

            Being an expert in addiction you will know that once a person has reached the addiction stage it’s already too late. They can’t stop without help. That’s what to be addicted to something means. If they can stop on their own then then they have a habit, not an addiction. But having said that addicts still need to take responsibility for becoming addicts in the first place.

            But tell me. Why should I be deprived of having a joint once every few months or so just because some dopehead decides it’s his right to smoke cannabis everyday? That essentially is what is fundamentally wrong with our drug laws. They punish the responsible while doing nothing to reduce the number of irresponsible users.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              I’m not an expert in addiction, but am experienced in a field which frequently intersects with addiction, and have had personal connections to a ‘community’ of “homebake” heroin addicts. Sure they could have made different choices, but having walked closely through life with some of them i ‘get’ why they have chosen as they have. The amount of raw pain/torment/anguish some people have to endure is incredible. Several people I know credit Heroin with saving their life, their suffering having been so unendurable that elsewise suicide was almost inevitable. Those who judge such people harshly (I’m not meaning you) have truly no idea.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              I suppose I view lack of empathy as a worse defect than addiction, but as a self-identified snowflake I would, wouldn’t I!

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              Try not to be over-sensitive snowy. It’s bad enuf having to worry about Corky’s feelings being hurt all the time.

            • Kevin

               /  January 12, 2018

              @phantom snowflake

              Heroin is an emotion suppressant so I can understand why those suffering from deep emotional pain would become addicts. But being an heroin addict is also a slow form of suicide. A while back there was study done of heroin addicts. After about twenty or so years every one of those addicts was dead.

              Digressing a bit but I would have something like a heroin drop-in centre where people could just go in. You would be asked for your id and your details would be entered into a database. You would be asked why you’re there and if you say because you’re an addict you would be later assessed and given any necessarily help. There would be of course be medical staff available at any time. The database would be set up to recognise users who may have a problem.

              That may seem immoral to some but it beats the alternative created by Prohibition – deadly homebake, overdoses due to not knowing the purity, and heroin laced with fentanyl etc.

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              This is reminding me I saw something on Aljaz or Fox tv last night where a US state governor has just declared their state’s opioid epidemic (fentanyl features strongly as a growing problem over there) a state Emergency.

              I didn’t see enuf to know exactly what that means in practical terms, ie their intended response to the problem, but he’s not the first one to declare the number of opioid deaths & addicts a state emergency by sound of it.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              @Kevin
              Great insight and ideas in your last comment.
              My turn to digress. The myth that Heroin use inevitably leads to addiction is hereby busted; I am someone who has used Heroin recreationally maybe 30 times, and have never been addicted. (That season of my life is well past now.)

            • Gezza

               /  January 12, 2018

              Governor Wolf, Pennsylvania.
              http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/capitol-ideas/mc-nws-pennsylvania-wolf-opioid-heroin-disaster20180110-story.html

              Seven other states have done the same. US drug enforcement & treatment policies seem such a mess state governors are having to step up and cut through the muddle to help deal with the problem themselves.

          • phantom snowflake

             /  January 12, 2018

            Gezza: Try not to be a tough kiwi bloke LOL

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 12, 2018

            It IS a matter of personal responsibility, to deny this is to encourage people to keep on using drugs/drinking/smoking-poor things, they can’t help it.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              Complete comprehension failure Kitty, I didn’t say it ISN’T!!

            • phantom snowflake

               /  January 12, 2018

              You know what; I give up. I am no match for your cultivated obtuseness, be it genuine or not!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 13, 2018

              Most people are not held down and forced to use these things. Circumstances may lead to them starting, but the only person who can stop them is themselves-this does NOT mean that other people can’t help them, of course.

              If you think that other people can stop you drinking/using drugs/smoking etc, you are very naive, They can’t, At Hanmer, the people were told that they have to want to stop for their own sake, nobody else’s. It’s true, too. If you are stopping for someone else, the odds of failing are much higher.

  2. Kevin

     /  January 11, 2018

    “Pretty much all of us are drug users, be it prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, or potentially harmful illicit drugs. Actually prescription drugs, alcohol and cannabis can be harmful as well as beneficial or benign.”

    Glad to see we’re on the same page. I don’t see recreational drug use as being necessarily good or bad, it just depends on how they are used.

    NZ Drug Foundation is looking to me more and more like a left-wing “progressive” organisation and personally I’d use the words and phrases on the “Don’t use” list over the “Use list”. Don’t get me wrong, the NZ Drug Foundation do a lot of good work but they don’t need to be retweeting crap like this.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 11, 2018

      Crap ? That’s paying it a compliment.

    • Pickled Possum

       /  January 13, 2018

      @ Kevin your comment from above…
      “Heroin is an emotion suppressant so I can understand why those suffering from deep emotional pain would become addicts. But being an heroin addict is also a slow form of suicide. A while back there was study done of heroin addicts. After about twenty or so years every one of those addicts was dead.”

      That statement is false IMO.
      Or maybe just every one that took part in the study died,
      I have friends and friends of friends also some distant relatives,
      who are 30+ years clean from Heroin, Home-bake, Meth, that are
      still very much alive and are productive humans in this wharked up society.

      Some people have very addictive natures. Just once
      (taking class A drugs) is enuff to start a life of forever and ever.
      Some Doctors, lawyers, policy makers, up right standing members of society.
      Addiction is No respecter of persons.

      I knew a Professor who did recreational heroin twice a year
      and didn’t think he was addicted.
      Just wanted a higher level of enjoyment, also he wrote a few papers
      that are world wide acclaimed, while high as a satellite.

      Once you start to ‘chase the dragon’ your farked,
      because the dragon can fly faster than the addict.

      To say Heroin is an emotion suppressant is IMO wrong,
      that is also what people who are against Cannabis say,
      that it is also an emotional suppressant.
      What I have seen contradicts that.
      So I follow my eyes and ears on this Kevin.

      There are many voices that have a little experience and
      info on the class A debacle and come out Loud as experts.
      It is sometimes as bad as the Gore Files IMO

      Hammer Springs was one of the best rehabs in NZ and when it closed
      Higher Ground and Odyssey House were what we were left with.
      Now we have The Retreat, The Turning Point, Red Door, Capri Sanctuary
      and many other little provincial rehabs, that are working for some.

      I have seen destruction from Home bake, Heroin and P,
      poverty, abuse, all the usual suspects of addiction.
      Gambling and Alcohol also cause many ILLS as well.
      So why are they still legal?

      A weak constitution is a fertile ground for any stimulant.
      Alcohol IMHO being the most destructive.

  3. Griff

     /  January 11, 2018

    The double standard of drinkers.
    Many times peploe who drink alcohol have called me a drug addled stoner because I prefer to smoke .
    If you point out that they are far more likely to not only personally suffer negative effects but to inflict their addiction on others they get incredibly offended .
    To minimize harm we need rational drug laws that are based on scientific examination of risk not on preconceived ideas, misinformed fears and conservative exceptionalism “because we have always used x we should ignore its effects on society”.

    • Kevin

       /  January 11, 2018

      Tell me about it. Someone should point out to these hypocrites that most people who use psychoactives use them far less often than what drinkers use alcohol.

    • Patu

       /  January 11, 2018

      Personally Griff, I ‘indulge’ in both.Well I used to, anyway. I have several criminal convictions, all of which were due to being ‘under the influence’ of something. And it wasn’t pot.

      • Griff

         /  January 12, 2018

        More to the point
        I have lost friends as probably have you l too the effects of alcohol.
        Drownings, car smashes, brawls,house fires, many other stupid accidents take their toll on predominantly young men.
        Disclaimer
        Make mine a whisky and coke.single no ice,
        “Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.”
        Hesiod (c.700 bc),
        โ€œEverything in moderation, including moderation.โ€
        โ€• Oscar Wilde

  4. Gezza

     /  January 11, 2018

    This is daft.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 11, 2018

      I’ll say. What is the difference between a drug user and a person who uses drugs ? I am asthmatic-it’s not going to make it different to call me a person with asthma !

      The maker of the list doesn’t know that problematic means dubious or doubtful.

      Most of these are nitpicking-why not say ‘clean’ ? To me, that sounds positive and we all know what it means. Reformed or former addict sounds good, too-they were one, now they are not one.

      Has an X use disorder be buggered; if someone is addicted, say so.

      Is there a difference between someone who owns a dog and a dog owner ? Or a taxi driver and someone who drives a taxi ?

  5. Zedd

     /  January 11, 2018

    maybe some folks are finally agreeing that Drug use & addiction is a health issue & should notr be dealt with by Criminal justice.. it is NOT a crime, just as having a few beers or a cigarette when you are feeling down isnt !

    Time to Wake up & smell the herbs ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. NOEL

     /  January 11, 2018

    So you prefer health issue. Sure lets give it the correct health title a self inflicted condition.

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 11, 2018

    Seems to be an incompetently misdirected effort. A far better principle is simply to label the behaviour rather than the person. Pulling your punches on describing destructive behaviour does no-one any good whereas labelling the person makes reform seem impossible.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  January 12, 2018

      Well done Alan… seriously. This is a productive approach – far better to stigmatise the behaviour and not the individual. I applaud your insight.

      Now, please apply youir newfound awareness to the rest of your crusty identity-politics and stop labelling those of us whose political orientations are different to your own…

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  January 12, 2018

        I always apply it, Joe. I complain about your behaviour and what you say, not who you are. The loony Left self-identify by what they do and say. They are always free to heal themselves.

  8. Patu

     /  January 11, 2018

    This is great news! Rather than being a ‘pisshead’, or even worse, an alcoholic, I guess I am now a ‘habitual binge drinker’. I feel better already. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 11, 2018

      I am not a book addict who can’t walk past a second-hand/antiquarian bookshop-I am a person who er, appreciates great literature to an extent where-oh dear, I can’t quite see where this is going….

      I love the smell of old books-perfume-it’s my substance of choice, SNNNFFFFF !!!! Ah !

  9. 2Tru

     /  January 11, 2018

    Who would have thought that experimental drug use was “non-problematic? Quite the opposite I would have thought. Some of the “Use” definitions are confusing and most are unnecessary changes in my opinion (isn’t substitution essentially the same as replacement?).

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 11, 2018

      More or less-I am substituting garlic for chives in this recipe-I am replacing garlic with chives in this recipe-and given the meaning of problematic, it’s meaningless here.It would only make sense if there was any doubt about the drug use.

      I can’t understand why people say’doing drugs’ rather than ‘using drugs’-this makes no sense, either. Nobody would say that they do a computer or a bike . I use a sewing machine, I don’t do one.

      • Gezza

         /  January 11, 2018

        It’s an Americanism Kitty. US citizens have morphed the verb “to do” into a mutli-purpose verb that can mean almost anything & where in any given case its meaning is deduced from the context.

        Eg
        Do drugs = use drugs
        Do lunch = have lunch at a restaurant or other eatery with somebody else
        Do *someone* = mimic or act as someone (Eg Alec Baldwin does Trump]

        I’m sure there are many other meanings. I imagine it saves them having to learn lots of words as they get dumber & dumber?

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 11, 2018

          (groans and agrees) it’s like ‘smart’ which seems to be ousting clever, intelligent, bright, able, astute, talented….

          I had forgotten ‘do lunch’.

          ‘doing a (something)’ isn’t so bad…like ‘doing a Marilyn Monroe’ on a windy day ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

        • phantom snowflake

           /  January 11, 2018

          “Do *someone*” has a different meaning in my world, G!

        • Gezza

           /  January 11, 2018

          Well, yes, but you’ve borrowed that from the lower classes in Britain for whom it can also mean to bonk someone in the fun way OR to smash someone, bro.

  10. Zedd

     /  January 11, 2018

    then I got high.. then I got high.. then I got even higher ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜€