Stigma and substance use disorder
Hoosiers who struggle with substance use disorder face a wide range of stigmas. A stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person or a group apart. When our neighbors and loved ones are labeled primarily by their substance use disorder, they are being negatively stereotyped.
In addition to educating ourselves on addiction, treatment and recovery, we can also:
- Offer support to friends and neighbors who are struggling.
- Listen while withholding judgment.
- Treat anyone suffering from substance use disorder with dignity and respect.
- Avoid hurtful language.
Language that includes biased and hurtful words can lead to discrimination and social exclusion. Stigma and discrimination are barriers not only to acknowledging the problem but also to seeking and accessing treatment and, ultimately, to recovery.
According to the National Council of Behavioral Health’s “Language Matters” guide, here are some examples of stigma-reducing language that should be used:
Person with opioid use disorder.
Addict, user, druggie, junkie, abuser
Person living in recovery
Person arrested for a drug violation
Medication is a treatment tool
Medication is a crutch
Had a setback
Maintained recovery; substance-free
Negative drug screen
Positive drug screen
Dirty drug screen