Thoughts on Opioid "Epidemic" vs. Social Norms?.

Recently, it occurred to me that the prevention, treatment, medical, law enforcement, etc. communities may be unintentionally working *against* each other in terms of our response to the current opioid epidemic. 

Much is made about environmental strategies and social norms--not wanting to "normalize" substance abuse. To me, this is a matter of language as much as anything. The very word "epidemic" speaks to the prevalence of an issue. It tells us that large amounts of people are participating. Wouldn't that perception translate into a "norm?" Especially to young people?

Personally, I've made the decision not to use the word "epidemic" in reference to my substance abuse prevention work. 

This does beg the question: How do we articulate the seriousness of current opioid misuse/abuse levels without referring to it in terms that, a) are hysterical, and/or b) run the risk of "normalizing" the issue?

 

Would love to hear your feedback on this!

Tara - Oak Harbor Youth Coalition
t.hizon@co.island.wa.us

 


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