Despite its controversies, labeling still finds its use in the addictions assessment process. Phrases like “I am Peter, and I am an alcoholic” have become iconic for Alcoholic Anonymous. On the one hand, self-labeling as alcoholics and addicts may seem beneficial for admitting that help is needed. On the other hand, accepting oneself as an alcoholic may be destructive and disempowering. Instead of giving people the strength to overcome their condition, labeling is associated with leaving a person paralyzed and waiting for help.
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The implications of labeling are evident and need to be addressed. According to Szwejka, images of addicts are negative, and being associated with the word may lead to the development of stigma (343-344). These scars are associated with being held responsible for choosing to take drugs and being incapable of avoiding its use. Therefore, people using drugs feel rejected by society as their behavior is labeled as deviant (Szwejka 344). Addiction assessment professionals are to understand the importance of words they use to facilitate their patients’ rehabilitation.
The language used to address people’s condition matters since it may damage a person’s mental health. The avoidance of labels may encourage people to seek assistance for their condition. Since addictions assessment process is the first step of patients toward addressing their problem, therapists are to use neutral language and avoid calling people alcoholics or addicts. Such words may discourage people from trying to change and leave them powerless in front of their condition. As coping with addictions requires to improve self-esteem and awareness, such discouragements may lead to difficulties in future treatment.
Szwejka, Lukasz. “Drug Addiction in the Labeling Theory.” Journal of Educational Review, vol. 6, no. 3, 2013, pp. 343-347. Web.