Renfrewshire Council

Appendix D - Language Matters resource

When working with people who use alcohol and other drugs

try thisinstead of this
substance use, non-prescribed useabuse, misuse, problem use, non-compliant use
person who uses or injects drugsdrug user, drug abuser
person with a dependence onaddict, junkie, druggie, alcoholic
person experiencing drug dependencesuffering from addiction, has a drug habit
person who has stopped using drugsclean, sober, drug-free
person with lived experience of drug dependenceex-addict, former addict, used to be a drug addict
person disagreeslacks insight, in denial, resistant, unmotivated
treatment has not been effective, person chooses not tonot engaged, non-compliant
person's needs are not being metdrug seeking, manipulative, splitting
currently using drugsusing again, fallen off the wagon, had a setback
no longer using drugsstayed clean, maintained recovery
positive or negative urine drug screendirty or clean urine
used or unused syringedirty or clean needle, dirties
pharmacotherapy is treatmentreplacing one drug for another

Adapted from Language Matters, National Council for Behavioural Health, United States (2015) and Matua Raki, New Zealand (2016)