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The Bridge Behavioral Health

The Bridge Behavioral Health, 721 K St.

The front page ("Drunks may end up in jail," May 29) calls out a name for people who are over using alcohol or gripped by addiction: drunks.

An adjective for a condition when having had too much to drink, to be sure. But this was a noun. No more should that person be called a drunk than the person with heart disease called a french fry abuser or the person with diabetes called a sugar fiend.

Use of the term is pejorative and judges that person according to their disease. Words matter. The Journal Star should appreciate that more than most. And maybe they do. Maybe "drunks" sells better. Either way, it is wrong and there is no excuse.

People are not their diseases. Each person has a treasure of skills, interests and talents to share that make them unique and valuable. That is why we use person-first language in behavioral health: John Doe is a person with a substance use disorder.

Yes, we don't say abuse any longer, either. Addiction is a brain disease, not a choice to be bad to alcohol or drugs. Any person recovering from addiction will tell you it was the alcohol or drug that beat up on them, not vice versa.

So, c'mon, Journal Star, join CenterPointe and the thousands of others carefully choosing their words to be more accurate, not judgmental and allowing people a little dignity as they struggle to recover.

Topher Hansen, Lincoln

President and CEO, CenterPointe

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