Professionals

The power of language in reducing stigma

CHOOSING APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE TO REDUCE THE STIGMA AROUND MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

Nora D. Volkow, Joshua A. Gordon, and George F. Koob

Published in Neuropsychopharmacology, July 2021, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01069-4

Takeaways

Overview

Experiences of stigmatization lead to poorer health outcomes in people struggling with substance use; internalized and societal stigma can worsen health issues and decrease the likelihood that someone will seek help.

This article highlights the positive impact that shifts in language can have on stigma, and advocates for the use of person-centered and non-value-based language as one method for reducing the stigmatization of substance use and mental health struggles.

Statistics

35% of people with serious mental illness in the U.S. and nearly 90% of people with substance use disorders do not receive treatment. (1)

• In 2019, over 17% of people with an alcohol or substance use disorder reported they did not seek treatment due to concerns that their neighbors or community would have a negative opinion of them. (1)

Further Reading

• An additional writeup of the article, from the NIH: Words matter: language can reduce mental health and addiction stigma, NIH leaders say.

A recent chapter on stigma from Drs. Carrie Wilkens and Jeffrey Foote: “Bad Parents,” “Codependents,” and Other Stigmatizing Myths About Substance Use Disorder in the Family.

More writeups in our Research Corner

• Full text available at Nature.com. Click here to read and download

  1. Han B. Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2020.5692.

Research corner roundup

Sign up to receive our latest updates in your inbox.


Click to sign up Close Form

photo 1504198322253 cfa87a0ff25f e1562009234470

e-books & guides

Minim conserrare nemine iure nibhvel ulterioribus quia lorem inaudito sol eorum.

Play Video

video series

Nulla conserrare beatae iure minimum posteritatem eget atque privatis hic parum.

people, age, family, care and support concept - close up of senior woman and young woman holding hands

Articles for Parents

Nulla conserrare beatae iure minimum posteritatem eget atque privatis hic parum.

How I did it

3 frozen bananas

Minim conserrare nemine iure nibh vel ulterioribus quia lorem inaudito solatium eorum consternati.

3 tbs almond butter

Dicit promoveram belgos sunt ante qui posteritatem quia minus luptatum incidunt porro bcatissimae.

almonds, cut in half

Minim conserrare nemine iure nibh vel ulterioribus quia lorem inaudito solatium eorum consternati.

dark chocolate

Dicit promoveram belgos sunt ante qui posteritatem quia minus luptatum incidunt porro bcatissimae.