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Word warning: Don’t call them ‘junkies’, ‘addicts’ or even ‘drug users’

Australians are being told to re-think the language we use when discussing people who use alcohol and other drugs.

Addiction experts have produced The Power of Words guide to educate healthcare workers about “stigmatising” terms that should be avoided when discussing users.

NO: Junkie, druggie, drug user, drug abuser

SOMETIMES NO: Addict, alcoholic/alkie, IDU/injecting drug user, intravenous drug user

ALLOWED: Person who uses or has used alcohol or other drugs

Melinda Lucas, from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, told Neil Mitchell the language we use can have a detrimental affect on people.

“A lot of the commonly used terms when relating to drug use have got negative associations that can be quite derogatory,” she said.

“That impacts on someone’s intention or ability to access health care services to address the drug abuse disorder or the condition they might need support with.”

Neil Mitchell was cynical.

“Words don’t change the world, I don’t think. Wish they did…”

Two men who described themselves as “former junkies” said the guide was “PC-gone mad”.

Click PLAY to hear the interview with Ms Lucas and caller reaction