Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, and you can find stories from people like Ann Marie, whose 20-year-old son became addicted to opioids in only five days. He wasn’t someone who had used other drugs and moved onto opioids. He was prescribed the drugs after a minor car accident.

Sometimes we have a preconceived notion of how a person develops an opioid use disorder. They may be perceived as weak or uneducated, or as someone who used other drugs previously and “moved up” to heroin. None of these perceptions are accurate. Literally anyone can become addicted to opioids.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Remember that saying from when we were young? It was something our parents often said to us. Some of truly believed that words cannot hurt us, but now we know differently. We know that words build up and tear down. They create bullies and contribute to mental health disorders. They can inspire and encourage us.

When we learn that someone has a substance use disorder, the words that come to mind reveal our biases. We quickly realize that describing someone as a junkie is hurtful, but what about addict or substance abuser? Do we recognize that they are just as harmful?