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