How can physician work to combat substance use and substance use disorder stigma?

  • Use clinically accurate language and terms around substance use disorder-diagnosis, symptoms, and recovery status.
  • Use person first language-a “person with substance use disorder” as opposed to “addict.”
  • Seek training and continuing education on the neuroscience of addiction as well as assessing and treating this chronic disease.
  • Recognize that not all use of drugs and alcohol constitute addiction.
  • Recognize conscious and unconscious bias or stigmatizing messages that get perpetuated in medical settings.

“Unfortunately, we still have a lot of people who think that people who have substance use disorders have character flaws, or that having an addiction is a moral failing. It is not. It is a brain disorder resulting in a chronic medical condition analogous to other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. We have to do whatever we can to reduce stigma.”

-Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA President


What is effective treatment?


Negative Stigma of Methadone

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