Don’t Call My Dad The “A” Word

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

By Jessica Hulsey Nickel


Language matters for people seeking help in the battle against addiction



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 67,367 persons last year died from drug overdoses. Drug overdose deaths are now more than from car crashes, equal to 17 times the deaths on 9/11.


Growing up, I heard many people call my dad the “a” word — an addict. In reality, he was a brilliant man and the father of two girls. He played guitar, could fix anything that ran on electricity, and had a debilitating medical condition called a substance use disorder — a heroin addiction. He died much too young at the age of 48.


When addiction hits your family, it’s like being hit head-on by a Mack Truck. It’s sleepless nights filled with worry, it’s desperate Googling, it’s dead-end streets, it’s isolation. And for those that have lost someone — a son, a daughter, a mom, a dad — it’s unimaginable pain. But unlike the support that erupts when other medical issues hit our neighbors — say cance