It really irritates me to see “drug reform” activists use the same prejudiced language as their opponents. These people remind me of early American abolitionists who often espoused just as much racism as the average slave owner. Abolitionists believed slavery was wrong, but that doesn’t mean they all believed in equality and weren’t subject to cultural indoctrination.
If you’re trying to change society, it helps if you actually understand it. And when you’re fighting for social change, you have to combat toxic ideas, not conform to them. Humans have a tendency to cultural conformity. Even so, you would expect people who are trying to change a culture to be able to see that culture’s prejudices. Instead, most people, whether their hearts are in the right place or not, seem doomed to operate within the bounds of conformity to social rules which were established to support the harmful beliefs they claim they’re trying to alter.
So here’s some junk semantics that need to change and the real meanings behind them, or, in some cases, the words we should be using instead.
Drug reform movement = human rights movement; civil rights movement
Drug related crime = prohibition related crime
Discontinuation syndrome = withdrawal syndrome. The term “discontinuation syndrome” was invented by the makers of SSRI anti-depressant drugs to distance SSRI withdrawal from cultural perceptions of drug addiction.
Chemical dependence = a positive euphemism for physical addiction
Clean = culturally acceptable drug user. a person who may smoke a pack of cigarettes and consume multiple alcoholic drinks per day.
Sobriety = culturally acceptable drug use. a state in which a person uses any and all drugs that aren’t illegal or culturally taboo.
Drug = medication
use = describes taking culturally taboo pharmaceuticals. “He takes Tylenol” versus “She uses heroin.”
Drug user = a person who uses an illegal or culturally taboo pharmaceutical, even when legitimately prescribed by a doctor, if that medical use is not culturally acceptable (for example, “medical marijuana”)
Junkie = Junky: a person whose central nervous system requires opiates to function normally. The preferred spelling removes the diminutive and reappropriates the epithet.
Addiction = chemical dependence. Currently used to describe a diseased mind or a compulsive habit depending on speaker’s bias; has been detached from the physical so that the word is only used to describe “drug users” and not all people who are chemically dependent; in actuality: the state of being physically addicted to (“chemically dependent” upon) a pharmaceutical.
Medical marijuana = marijuana. A well-intentioned euphemism which necessarily implies that the reason a person takes a particular drug should be subject to regulation and that recreational use should be treated differently than “medical use”, which is then defined on culturally subjective terms.
Makes me want to use some medical aspirin.