Public knowledge and attitudes about addiction are largely inconsistent with scientific evidence. The gap between the facts and public and professional perceptions is due in part to the language used to describe the disease and those who have it. A key step in modifying public attitudes and improving how health professionals and policymakers address addiction is to better align the language of addiction with the scientific evidence. Unless we clarify the language, those with the disease will continue to experience the stigma associated with it and attempts to deliver comprehensive and effective evidence-based prevention, treatment, and disease management will be profoundly compromised.
J Public Health Policy. 2014 Feb. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2013.44.