Why small changes to the language around addiction are so enormously important

‘Addict’ label lowers self-esteem, adds to social isolation, prevents people from getting needed care

This column is an opinion by Dr. Laura MacKinnon, a primary care physician working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and in Northern B.C., and a research fellow with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

One of my patients recently refused to go to the hospital for a life-threatening infection, stating “I don’t want to go to [this hospital] because they treat me like I’m just an addict there.”

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