Words have power: To marginalize. To discriminate. To dehumanize.
It took nearly fives years into my recovery to learn that language has the power to kill when it comes to addiction. And few words do more harm to those suffering from addiction and their families than the word: junkie.
This term is an insulting slur. It stigmatizes, dehumanizes, and disenfranchises millions of people struggling with a legitimate medical issue. As a documentary filmmaker myself, I was appalled when I read VICELAND’s announcement about their new documentary series set to premiere during National Recovery Month.
They’re calling it American Junkie.
What’s even more head-scratching is how the show’s creator and TV Executive describe what they are attempting to do:
“This show takes the current drug crisis beyond headlines and statistics and makes it human.” – VP of Current Programming and Executive Producer Patrick Moses
“Addiction is a faceless disease that does not discriminate.” – Filmmaker Pat McGee
So they want the show to “humanize” and “not discriminate”? But in a sleazy attempt for a ratings bump, they opted to use this degrading term for the most critical element of the show, the title? This will produce the exact opposite effect of their stated intentions.
We need to act fast and demand the producers of this program change the title before it hits the airwaves next month. To do that, we’re asking you to take a few simple steps today:
1. Please email a note to Patrick Moses, Vice’s Executive Producer, telling him how using this term in the show title will further marginalize an already discriminated group of people, ultimately leading to more incarceration and death for those with a preventable and treatable health problem.
No @viceland @mrpatrickmoses, don’t call me a junkie, I am a PERSON who once struggled with addiction. You will have blood on your hands from the millions #FacingAddiction if you don’t change the title of “American Junkie” immediately! #WordsHavePower
We have seen before when corporate profit interests create immoral actions that directly impact those struggling with addiction. We cannot remain silent, and allow a mainstream media series to use this inflammatory word in their show title. If we want to open up desperately needed healthcare resources, change the public response to this crisis, and save more lives, the most significant fight we have every day is negative public perception.
I hope you will speak out with me today.
With warm regards,
Executive Vice President, Facing Addiction with NCADD