People with substance use disorder (SUD) have a medical condition and need medical care. Yet the language often used to describe people with substance use disorders tends to blame or demean them, creating a stigma that interferes with their opportunity to seek treatment.
Eliminating stigma is one of the first steps to helping people with substance use disorders access the medical care they need.
The mission of the Superior Health Quality Alliance Shine a Light on Stigma campaign is to increase respect for and dignity of persons with substance use disorder. We are asking individuals and organizations to learn about and commit to eliminating the stigma surrounding substance use disorders by changing the language they use.
Ending stigma is about preventing the judgment and shame imposed upon people with substance use disorders so that we create an environment that promotes healing and recovery in a supportive and respectful way.
The words we use directly influence our thoughts and feelings about others. We can help eliminate stigma by adjusting how we talk about it.
By pledging to “Shine a light” on stigma, you are making a conscious decision to think about your words and choose person-centered language. This shift will elevate the person and help eliminate the discrimination that stigma creates.
What Does Taking the Pledge Mean?
Individuals and organizations are invited to commit to reducing stigma, paving the way for better access to treatment for those who need it.
By pledging to Shine a Light on Stigma
You choose to use person-centered language when discussing substance abuse disorder.
You agree to use words that are supportive, non-judgmental, culturally responsive and welcoming.
You pledge to use peer-to-peer coaching to create an environment where anyone can safely point out stigma-producing words to help eliminate their use.
These shifts will help elevate the person and eliminate stigma.
As a leader, I commit my organization to use person-centered language when referring to people with substance use disorder and those in recovery.
I commit to using person-centered language when referring to people with substance use disorder and people who are in recovery.
Share Your Commitment
Use this promotional media toolkit to increase awareness of the power of words to Shine a Light on Stigma and change our language regarding substance use disorders. This kit provides tips, tools and resources for distributing information in your community.
This podcast series explores ways to eliminate stigma and help people with substance use disorders access the medical care they need. Produced by Superior Health Quality Alliance and Telligen Quality Improvement Network.
Dr. Bobby Redwood, an emergency physician, and Superior Health subject matter expert on addiction medicine, developed this seven-video series for physicians as part of the Shine the Light on Stigma campaign. The videos review the widely taught stages of change model for assessing a patient’s readiness to act on a new healthier behavior while providing tips and sample scripting of judgment-free language to help us avoid stigmatizing opioid use disorder and the patients who suffer from it.
This video focusing on stigma is one in a four-part SUD series within the Superior Health Front Line Forces training program. Each video is approximately four to nine minutes in length, describes addiction as a chronic medical condition, offers strategies for combatting stigma, describes resources for treatment and discusses prevention strategies.
View this collection of personal accounts that illustrates the harmful effects of stigma in treating substance use disorder.
Explore Person-Centered Language
Shine a Light on Stigma Language Matters Flyer Superior Health Quality Alliance
Download and post this flyer with examples of person-centered language you can use to help people with a substance use disorder feel more comfortable asking for the care they need.
Words Matter: How Language Choice Can Reduce Stigma SAMHSA
This resource looks at the role of language in perpetuating SUD stigma, with 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.
Person-Centered Language University of Minnesota Center for Practice Transformation
Dialog examples written in both a traditional and person-centered perspective highlight the importance of utilizing person-centered language when conceptualizing an individual and describing the individual to colleagues.
Webinar Series: Ensuring Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Treatment Through the Care Continuum
Fridays | September 2023 – June 2024 | 11 a.m. – Noon CT | Noon – 1 p.m. ET This nine-session webinar series is a nationwide collaboration of every Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization. Co-led by Superior Health and Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG), each session features local and national experts providing strategies, interventions and targeted solutions to ensure access to MOUD treatment and facilitate the continuity of care through the continuum. Register. You can select all or any of the sessions you want to attend. Session information and recording homepage. Download the flyer.
Removing Barriers to Prescribing Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Superior Health Quality Alliance
This resource contains brief overview of the new Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (MAT) provisions which now apply to physicians, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants that help remove barriers to prescribing medications for opioid use disorder.
Opioid Prescribing and Overdose Prevention Toolkit for Health Care Organizations
Superior Health Quality Alliance The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain is grouped into four areas of consideration. This toolkit contains resource materials and recommendations supporting these four considerations and their 12 recommended prescribing best practices to help community prescribers reduce opioid addiction, overdose and death.
What is Substance Use Disorder?
Superior Health Quality Alliance
This Front Line Forces SUD Series video creates a shared understanding of SUD and the struggles it causes.
Addiction Medicine Toolkit for Providers in Training National Institute on Drug Abuse
Designed as an introduction for health care providers in training, these resources can help prepare them to become certified in the Addiction Medicine (ADM) physician subspecialty.
Naloxone Saves Lives Flyer
IPRO Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization This patient education document describes what naloxone is, how it works, why it is offered to individuals with an opioid prescription, and signs of opioid overdose.