Family Drug Support Australia
Support Line: 1300 368 186
(available 24 hours 7 days a week)

Language Matters!

At FDS we have always tried to avoid using negative labels such as junkie, druggie and addict which tend to shame and stigmatised people who use drugs and by association their families. We would rather use terms like substance user, people who use drugs, drug dependant etc.

We also try to avoid using common ideas and concepts which really do not help families deal with substance issues, these include;

‘Rock bottom’ - many people come out of drug use or problematic drug use without ever getting close to rock bottom, while unfortunately for some people rock bottom is never a place they come back from. So as an idea it has no logical merit

‘Clean’ - what people mean when they say clean is when a person hasn't used drugs for a certain amount of time, why not use the actual descriptor ‘not used for 1-2 year’ etc. The other negative element to this idea, is that whilst they are not using they are clean and if they use again they become dirty.

‘Enabling’ - this is a dreadful label that often gets applied to families that are struggling to keep their family member safe and are applying harm reduction strategies. We reject this idea because we always believe families are always doing the best they can in the circumstances they are in.

When we avoid these labels and concepts, we are showing respect to everyone, which has been proven to have better outcomes than shaming and blaming. Our Stepping Forward program goes into more detail about this, and any queries please contact our support line on 1300 368 186.