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Addiction and Stigma Part 2 — by Dr. Lipi Roy

In today’s video, I discuss several simple but effective ways to reduce stigma faced by people who experience addiction. How? By changing our *language.



“Substance/drug abuse”

“Substance/drug abuser”

“War on Drugs”

“Dirty urine”

“Junkie,” “Addict,” “Cokehead,” “Package,” “Body

==> …

…Patient self-stigma: less likely to seek help; perceive increased discrimination

Health care professionals stigma:

  – less regard for patients with addictions

  – perceived as “less motivated, violent,  manipulative”

  – shorter visits –>–> Suboptimal Care 🙁

—————————————————— v.s. ——————————————————


“Substance use disorder”

“Person with substance use issues/disorder”

“Urine is positive”

==> …

… Patients feel less judged, more respected

More likely to seek care

Improved therapeutic relationship 🙂



Botticelli MP and Koh HK. Changing the Language of Addiction. JAMA. Oct. 2016.

Kelly, JK, Wakeman SE and Saitz, R. Language, Substance Use Disorders, and Policy: The Need to Reach Consensus on an “Addicton-ary”. Alcoholism E

Wakeman, SE. Language and Addiction: Choosing Words Wisely. Am J Public Health. April 2013.

Wakeman, SE. Using Science to Battle Stigma in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Opioid Agonist Therapy Saves Lives. Amer J of Medicine. May 2016.


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