What Do Banned CDC Words Mean for Addiction Care?

18 December 2017
Banned CDC Words

Science and medicine have always relied on a baseline vocabulary to assess origins of phenomena, form hypotheses, measure results and codify basic truths of the natural order. By and large, this critical terminology has been apolitical, as are the agencies that use it to make the necessary recommendations to affect change. This past week, a list of banned CDC words issued by the Department of Health and Human Services threatened to upend this basic understanding. The agency submitted a list of terms that they say are prohibited from appearing in the CDC’s 2019 budget report at a meeting this past week in Washington.

Among the terms listed in the banned CDC words list are “transgender”, “diversity”, “vulnerable”, “fetus”, “evidence-based” and “science-based”. You’re not reading this wrong. HHS offered alternatives to the prohibited words in the budget, including “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” The expulsion of basic vocabulary terms, however politically charged one special-interest group may think they are, do an extraordinary disservice to efforts to have any real conversation about the public health issues facing the United States, including drug abuse and addiction.

This past year, and at several points during his 2016 campaign, President Trump pledged to address the widespread opioid crisis which took over 54,000 lives last year; these banned CDC words represent a significant step backwards in that pursuit. The reality is that, all politics aside, the term “evidence-based” is a commonly used clinical term to assess the efficacy of treatment modalities as well as their origins and their scientific validity. It’s tough to have a conversation about addiction treatment or healthcare policy, if you can discuss the evidence behind it. Recovery Unplugged Texas will continue to strive toward evidence-based treatment and scientific approach to further innovate music-based addiction treatment.