One year ago, when we announced our new section Lived Experience on Twitter, we were trolled. “If you adjust the name of the journal,” wrote one reply, “I'd be happy to share my lived experience. #stigmakills.” In fact, the editors had contemplated a name change dating back to the early 2000s when Tom McLellan was editor-in-chief. When Dr. Friedmann assumed the mantle in 2019, we wrote an editorial that discussed our desire to change the journal name and why the timing was not right at that time.
So, we are pleased to announce that with the February 2023 issue, JSAT's underlying name has changed to the Journal of Substance Use & Addiction Treatment.
In making a change, we wanted to keep the JSAT moniker, but eliminate the stigmatizing term ‘abuse.’ Over the past year, the editors have worked closely with our publisher and stakeholders to examine the possibility of a name change and its potential impact on the journal. JSAT's editors-in-chief emeriti, on whose shoulders we stand, unanimously favored a change, as did our distinguished editorial board. The publisher did an analysis in Google Scholar and found that use of the term ‘substance abuse’ had dropped significantly over the last decade, and concluded that the time had come, even though it might weaken our impact factor for a year or two. This finding made complete sense given that DSM-V had dropped the term ‘abuse’ in 2013, and numerous leaders in the field, including editorial board member John Kelly, have advocated sunsetting language that patients experience as pejorative.
In deciding on a new name, the editorial team conferred with the publisher, editorial board, emeriti editors-in-chief and our Twitter followers. We are grateful for the many suggestions we received. We settled on Journal of Substance Use & Addiction Treatment because this name indicates that we are interested in publishing scholarship that examines the entire spectrum of substance use — from its early stages as a risk factor for future harm (e.g. pre-disorder or unhealthy use), to the manifestation of consequences (e.g. DSM-V use disorder, modifier mild-moderate), all the way through addiction, which we conceptualize as synonymous with DSM-V substance use disorder, severe modifier.
Some stakeholders took issue with the term ‘addiction’ because it is not, strictly speaking, a clinical term. That said, medical specialties and societies that address substance use disorders all use the term ‘addiction’ self-referentially, and we explicitly desire that contributions to JSAT should be relevant to addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry, as well as all disciplines engaged in treatment interventions, harm reduction, and recovery support. ‘Addiction’ also differs from ‘abuse’ because it is not considered pejorative in a person-first context (i.e. person with an addiction), and its Latin etymology suggests an impairment of volition, which is a common manifestation of this severe form of the disorder. The new title also maintains our sharp focus on substance-related disorders; it is not coincidental that the few studies on behavioral addictions published in JSAT are confined to substance-using populations.
Others noted correctly that not all persons who use substances need ‘treatment.’ Indeed, ‘use’ per se is not pathological. That said, substance use that does not reach the threshold of a disorder does confer risk and may merit a counseling intervention. Some would further argue that even low risk use merits clinical assessment and anticipatory guidance, and public health awareness. We are content that the new name represents a positive change, and plan to draw this line on a case-by-case basis rather than relying on the new name to parse the distinction between secondary prevention interventions and treatment.
JSAT: The Journal of Substance Use & Addiction Treatment remains interested in articles that address policies, systems of care, assessment techniques, and intervention approaches that have clear relevance for substance use and its disorders, with a particular focus on treatment interventions, harm reduction, and recovery support.
The editors of JSAT appreciate your continued support and look forward to receiving your submissions.
Published online: January 06, 2023
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