Improving the Language of Addiction: Why Tully Hill Uses ‘Substance Use Disorder’

April 30, 2019

Certain terminology (including addiction and chemical dependency) used to define, discuss, and describe substance abuse and dependence are now known to have a high association with negative judgments and punishment, resulting in and perpetuating a deep-rooted stigma of shame, disgrace, and personal failure. 

In committing to reducing this stigma and supporting treatment and recovery, Tully Hill in all of its website, social media, and other digital and traditional marketing and agency-wide communication language now uses the clinically accurate term “substance use disorder” to describe the constellation of impairments caused by repeated misuse of substances (please note that, whereas most if not all of our older blog posts at do not employ this appropriate, non-stigmatizing language, all subsequent posts do and will retain it).

Likewise, we have pledged to follow the guidelines set forth by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and that are conceptually and in general endorsed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and other federal and state entities governing and regulating substance use disorder. We will therefore now use language that respects the worth and dignity of all persons by using person-first language; that focuses on the medical as well as clinical nature of substance use disorders and treatment; that promotes the recovery process; and that avoids propagating negative stereotypes and biases through the use of slang and idioms.


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