Words Matter: How Language Choice Can Reduce Stigma

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Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace or infamy, a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.ii Substance use disorders carry a high burden of stigma; fear of judgment means that people with substance use disorders are less likely to seek help, and more likely to drop out of treatment programs in which they do enroll.  This tool looks at the role of language in perpetuating SUD stigma, followed by tips for assessing when and how we may be using stigmatizing language, and steps for ensuring that the language we use and messages we deliver are positive, productive, and inclusive.

Publisher: SAMHSA CAPT

Publication date: November 2017 (6 pages)

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