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Stigma

People who struggle with opioid use disorder face a wide range of stigmas. A stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person or a group apart. When people are labeled primarily because of their opioid use disorder, they are being negatively stereotyped.

Language that includes biased and hurtful words can lead to discrimination and social exclusion. Stigma and discrimination are barriers to acknowledging the problem, seeking and accessing treatment and ultimately – to recovery.

Language is powerful – especially when talking about addictions.

Here are some examples of stigma reducing language that should be used.

Say this...

Not this...

Person with opioid use disorder.

Addict, user, druggie, junkie, abuser

Disease

Drug habit

Person living in recovery

Ex-addict

Person arrested for a drug violation

Drug offender

Substance dependent

Hooked

Medication is a treatment tool

Medication is a crutch

Had a setback

Relapsed

Maintained recovery; substance-free

Stayed clean

Negative drug screen

Clean

Positive drug screen

Dirty drug screen

Pledge today to help reduce the stigma around opioid use disorder.

Take the Pledge Now
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