Reducing the opioid stigma
Stigma exists in many facets of life. Learning about the stigma around substance use disorders and being aware of potential biases can help break down barriers that patients are facing when it comes to seeking help.
The words we use, for instance, can contribute to the stigma around opioid use. Words alone can create barriers for those who are struggling with opioid use disorder, and who would benefit from accessing effective treatment.
One of the most important things to remember when talking to someone with an opioid use disorder, is to use person-first language – in doing so, we focus on the person, not the disorder. In addition, by choosing words carefully, you can change the conversation to show you understand someone “has” a problem, rather than making them feel like they “are” the problem.
When discussing opioids or other substance use disorders, consider the following:
|Addict, user, drug abuse, junkie
||Person with opioid use disorder or person with opioid addiction
|Opioid abuse or opioid dependence
||Opioid Use Disorder
|Clean or dirty urine test
||Negative or positive urine drug test
|Opioid substitution or replacement therapy
||Opioid agonist treatment
||Return to us
||Being in remission or recovery
|Adapted from NIDA Words Matter: Terms to Use and Avoid When Talking About Addiction