According to one health expert, following what was revealed in the new Channel 4 exposé Jeremy Kyle: Death on Daytime, the media’s depiction of addiction is scrutinised.
The axed Jeremy Kyle Show has been slammed over its disturbing remarks to those with a substance use disorder and its use of people’s struggles for entertainment value.
Martin Preston, founder and chief executive of private rehabilitation clinic Delamere, agrees there is still too much ignorance surrounding taboo addiction in the UK. These harmful ideologies can negatively impact those who are struggling.
He said: ‘The use of stigmatised language shames people out of seeking help. For example, the term ‘addict’ suggests the person is a problem rather than has a problem. Even though addiction is an illness classified by the World Health Organization and there is now a better recent narrative around other mental health issues, many still misunderstand addiction.
‘It takes courage and humility for anyone to forgo their anonymity and talk about their recovery from addiction. When someone does this, they carry a compelling message that recovery is possible and help break some of the stigmas that keep the UK stuck.’
The language we use around addiction matters
Martin suggests that better terminology is used throughout the media to educate people. He said: ‘Instead of “addict”, it’s more compassionate to tell a person with a substance use disorder. Addict suggests that the person is a problem rather than the person has a problem. Punitive, shaming terms keep people from seeking help.’
‘In the US, for instance, there is much more compassion and understanding around addiction – this is perhaps thanks to Betty Ford who, having been so public about her alcoholism and recovery, became a great advocate for recovery. What hope do we have here in the UK if someone tries to carry the recovery message and is met with ignorance and outmoded, derogatory language?’