With simple changes in language, harmful stigma and negativity around SUD can be reduced or avoided


Junkie. Drunk. User. Habit. Dirty. Clean. Addict. User. Alcoholic.

Words, and how you use them when talking to patients, can have a profound effect on people. Talking about addiction in ways that are stigmatizing—meaning words are used that portray someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) in a shameful or negative way—may actually prevent them from seeking treatment.

While addiction is a treatable disease, many people make it more difficult with the language they use. The good news is that simple changes can reduce and eliminate the harmful stigma surrounding substance use disorder.

NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse produced an Addiction Language Guide for Clinicians to help change language and reduce or avoid sigma.

For more information on how you can help your patients, click here.