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Stigmatizing opioid use disorder and addiction is dangerous and potentially damaging. This section contains information and resources on how to combat opioid-related stigma, including resources on using non-stigmatizing language.

Using Non-Stigmatizing Language

Words Matter Handout

  • Download this guide to using non-stigmatizing language when discussing OUD and SUD.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: End the Stigma

  • The End the Stigma Campaign from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has resources on how to change the conversation around substance use and substance use disorder.

Shatter Proof: Stigma-reducing language

  • Use this guide to person-first language when discussing OUD to reduce stigma and improve treatment.

Anti-Stigma Toolkit

ATTC – Anti-Stigma Toolkit: A Guide to Reducing Addiction-Related Stigma

  • A guide to provide the addiction treatment and recovering community with practical information and tools to enhance their capacity to engage in effective stigma reduction efforts.

Comprehensive Resources on Stigma

AMA: End the Epidemic – Put an end to Stigma

  • This online resource from the AMA contains recommendations for physicians and policymakers on how to put an end to opioid-related stigma

Webinars on Stigma and OUD


SAMHSA: The Power of Perceptions and Understanding: Changing how we deliver treatment and recovery services

  • Watch this 4-part webcast on reducing discriminatory practices in clinical settings and earn up to 4.0 free CME/CR credits.
  • Resource Guide

Decreasing stigma involving addiction begins with the medical profession

  • Ayana Jordan, a Providers Clinical Support System Clinical expert, discusses the need for the medical profession to reduce stigma associated with treating patients with opioid use disorder.

The Role of Shame in Opioid Use Disorders

  • In this module, participants will learn to recognize and treat shame in patients with OUD. Participants will learn about particular subsets of people with OUD who have specific concerns regarding shame, including people who inject heroin, and opioid-addicted pregnant women and mothers. Finally, treatment options that address shame in people with OUD will be outlined.

Follow-up Q and A Webinar: The Role of Shame in Opioid Use Disorders

  • This Q and A webinar further discussed Dr. Braun-Gabelman’s online module, “The Role of Shame in Opioid Use Disorders,” and allowed participants of the module to pose questions to Dr. Braun-Gabelman; she also presented a few cases related to this topic.

Stigma and OUD

  • Nurse Practitioner Vanessa Loukas, a Providers Clinical Support System Clinical expert, discusses the issue of stigma in treating patients with opioid use disorder—from the patients to the providers who treat them.

Addiction Prediction: Errors from the Bedside Hurt Patients with Pain

  • The goal/purpose of this activity was to provide strategies for safe opioid use in the hospital and after patient discharge.

Articles and Research on Opioid-Related Stigma


The effectiveness of interventions for reducing stigma related to substance use disorders: a systematic review

  • This study provides a systematic review of existing research that has empirically evaluated interventions designed to reduce stigma related to substance use disorders.

Confronting the Stigma of Opioid Use Disorder—and Its Treatment

  • This viewpoint addresses four factors contributing to the stigma surrounding opioid use disorder and medication-assisted treatment and discusses ways to counter this stigma.

AMA: Pain expert: Judge the opioid treatment, not the patient

  • This article discusses the process of assessing whether opioids are the appropriate course of treatment for patients, and judging the treatment and not the patient.

Address patient shame, stigma when treating opioid misuse

  • Assessing risk for opioid misuse, treatment of chronic pain and the role of shame in patients with opioid use disorders are just three of the topics covered in a collection of resources from a national training and mentoring project developed by physicians to promote the fundamental role of self-education and in curbing the opioid epidemic.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg American Health Initiative: Guiding Principles for Addressing the Stigma on Opioid Addiction

  • This article outlines six guiding principles that should inform all efforts to reduce opioid-related stigma, including the use of person-centered language and using sympathetic narratives

A Roadmap to Reduce Stigma on Opioid Addiction

  • This article provides a roadmap of initial and comprehensive activities that governments and private organizations interested in addressing opioid-related stigma should implement.

Recovery Research Institute: The Real Stigma of Substance Use Disorders

  • This article breaks down research on the question: “Does is matter how we talk about people with substance use disorder?”

Recovery Research Institute: Opioid use disorder, medication assisted treatment, and stigma

  • This presentation defines stigma, the factors that influence opioid-related stigma, and challenges and potential solutions.

Educational Resources


Overdose Lifeline, Inc.

Special Populations


Youth and the Opioid Epidemic

  • This article reviews youth-specific needs for combating the opioid epidemic.

Stigma Associated with Opioid Use Disorders in Adolescents Limits Naloxone Prescribing

  • This article reviews how stigma can prevent some health care providers from discussing the realities of substance abuse with adolescent patients and their families.

For more information on managing pain and opioid use disorder in adolescents, visit the Adolescents section of the Michigan Safer Opioid Prescribing Toolkit.

Steps to Reduce Opioid-Related Stigma in Pediatric Care

Patients Stories


LIVES Challenge: Leveraging Impactful Videos to End Stigma

  • This brief video discusses stigma and includes patient stores bout how stigma has affected them.

The Unicorn Project: Recovery from opioid addiction is not a myth

  • Read patient stores from real people in recovery from opioid use disorder.

For more general information on opioid-related stigma, visit the Michigan Safer Opioid Prescribing Toolkit