Division of Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction: New Names Reflect Progress

February 29, 2020

We are pleased to announce important name changes for McLean’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and its associated treatment program.

As of Monday, March 2, 2020, the division will officially be known as the Division of Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction and the umbrella treatment program will be known as the Alcohol, Drug, and Addiction Treatment Program. Numerous division staff members and hospital leaders contributed their insight to making these changes.

What’s behind these changes? It can be summed up in two words: “science” and “stigma.”

The terms substance “abuse” and “abuser” have been shown to be stigmatizing terms, and stigma is a major barrier to the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs). We hope that these simple but significant name changes will have a positive impact on helping reduce the stigma associated with SUDs specifically and mental illness overall.

Roger D. Weiss
McLean’s Division of Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction is led by Chief Roger D. Weiss, MD

The name changes also reflect the new scientific terminology in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). The terms “substance abuse” and “substance dependence” are no longer used as official diagnoses. These former diagnostic categories have been combined to create one overarching diagnostic term, “substance use disorder.”

Meanwhile, the addition of the word “addiction” helps promote inclusivity and recognize the breadth of the division’s mission. In addition to providing treatment to and conducting clinical research with patients with SUDs, we also conduct alcohol and drug research with people without SUDs. The new names also reflect our capacity to diagnose and treat patients with other types of behavioral addictions, not just substance-related disorders.

We understand that the outdated terms “abuse” and “abuser” will continue to be used by the general public and by those in the mental health field itself. We, however, are committed to using the newer terminology, words that are scientifically current and more sensitive, respectful, and helpful to our patients.

McLean Hospital is a leader in addiction care, research, and education. If you or a loved one need help with addiction to drugs or alcohol, learn more about treatment options or call us today at 978.464.2331.

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