Stigma is Killing Our Patients: Dismantling the Stigma of Substance Use Disorders
Stigma generated and reinforced by healthcare practitioners results in humiliation, reduced access to care, and ultimately fuels the cycle of addiction for people with opioid and other substance use disorders. Stigmatizing perceptions related to opioid use disorder (OUD) are instilled in medical education resulting in biases that increase during time spent in training, revealing the “hidden curriculum” of negative attitudes towards individuals with OUD. In this activity, participants will go beyond the basics of what constitutes stigma and instead explore how stigma specifically affects the healthcare provider community , the medical system as a whole, and individual patients. Practical solutions and skills is shared that can be immediately implemented including application of patient-first recovery-centered language, discussion of patient stories, empowerment through advocacy principles and health equity frameworks, and evaluation of institutional policy.
At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to:
- Define the three main types of stigma and apply these definitions to the care of people with substance use disorders (SUD)
- Explore the role of early training in producing and reinforcing stigma of people with SUD
- Develop strategies and best practices for integrating training related to stigma and bias into health professional education across different settings
- Describe available tools that can be used to address the current gap in health professional education in stigma and bias for people with substance use disorder
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