Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council Requests Name Change to Reduce Stigma

A bill before the County Council Tuesday would rename Montgomery County’s Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council (AODAAC) the Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction Advisory Council. It would replace the word “abuse” with “addiction.”

In a January letter, the advisory council requested the name change to “better align with AODAAC’s anti-stigma priorities.”

Chair Margaret Mattson explained, “The word ‘abuse’ is stigmatizing because: ‘(1) it negates that addictive disorders are medical conditions, (2) it attributes blame for the illness to the individual, ignoring environmental and genetic factors, as well as the ability of substances to alter brain chemistry, (3) it absolves those selling and promoting addictive substances of any wrongdoing, and (4) it feeds into the stigma experienced not only by individuals with addictive disorders, but also family members and the addiction treatment field.’”

The new legislation also seeks to replace the word “abuse” with “addiction” throughout various county code provisions, said Legislative Attorney Khandikile Sokoni.

AODAAC requested changes to all county code language that stigmatizes substance use disorders, to replace language with words that reduce bias. According to AODAAC, certain words like “‘alcoholics” have negative connotations, and using person-first language instead would honor the individual as a whole human being and better reflect the county’s equity priorities.

A public hearing will be held Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m. and a council committee work session is scheduled for March 9. The bill is sponsored by Council President Evan Glass at the request of County Executive Marc Elrich.

Also Tuesday, Councilmember Dawn Luedtke introduced a bill aimed at improving transparency of county boards, committees and commissions.

At the same Council Meeting, Councilmember Gabe Albornoz introduced legislation to establish an Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Commission.

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