Words become grenades—strategically spoken at times in order to do the most damage. Total strangers felt allowed to criticize or judge me, saying that I was "such a waste of life," "useless," or "just a drunk or addict." After a while, I began to believe these words. Luckily for me, eventually these feelings were replaced with optimism, encouragement, and words that provided healing... When we choose to be compassionate, we become a part of the solution, giving an opportunity to others to be successful.

Marissa Marissa, Lawyer, Mother, Friend

A nation-wide survey proves that changing language improves outcomes.

Instead of this… Say this


Drug problem/habit

  1. Substance Use Disorder (SUD), addiction (if clinically accurate)
  2. Use (for illicit drugs); misuse, (for prescription drugs)


Druggie/Drug Abuser


Person with a SUD (person with OUD if relevant)

Addicted to [ x ]

Has a [ x ] use disorder

Clean or Stayed clean


Never tell someone in recovery how to talk about themselves.