Glossary of Terms used in Drug Policy

By Drug Policy Network South East Eurpore (June 2017)

Concepts in the field related to drug problems, including but not limited to drug policy, addiction treatment harm reduction or such, are labelled and defined in variable ways by different professions and disciplines throughout the world. Occasionally attempts have been made to standardize usage of terms related to the matter and affect the general change by reducing misunderstanding that as a long term result has reducing of stigma and discrimination. Nevertheless major challenges remain.

The World Health Organization recommended that “Terminology in national drug control legislation and policies should be clear and unambiguous in order not to confuse the use of controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes with misuse”.

People of different backgrounds have difficulties in understanding and using proper terms related to drugs. Many of the words used to describe addiction and addicts only add to stereotypes and stigma. The language should be changed to reflect today’s greater understanding. By choosing terminology that is not stigmatizing, we can begin to dismantle the negative stereotype associated with addiction.

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