Preventing and Reducing Stigma

Region 5

The Great Lakes PTTC is committed to preventing and reducing the pervasive stigma associated with having, treating, or being in recovery from a substance use disorder.

Our efforts include:

  • Disseminating research on the impact of stigma on populations and key community sectors
  • Presenting evidence-based and theoretically sounds stigma prevention or reduction strategies
  • Spreading the message that a substance use disorder is a chronic medical condition rather than a moral failing
  • Encouraging the use of non-stigmatizing language related to substance use disorders
  • Building awareness of anti-stigma initiatives at the community and state levels in the Great Lakes Region


Purpose of this Webpage

This web page contributes to national efforts to understand and change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that can lead to stigma and discrimination. Changing stigma in a lasting way will require coordinated efforts based on the best possible evidence. This web page provides a place to learn about the impact of stigma on vulnerable populations and offers best practices for preventing and reducing stigma with vulnerable populations within relevant community sectors.


A Basic Definition

“Stigma can be understood as an attribute, behavior, or reputation that is socially discrediting, and substance-related problems appear to be particularly susceptible to stigma.” (John F. Kelly∗, Cassandra M. Westerhoff)


A Statement on Language

“How we refer to individuals with substance-related conditions and that use of, and exposure to, the “abuser” label may inadvertently elicit and perpetuate stigmatizing attitudes. Because such a low proportion of individuals with these costly and harmful conditions access treatment and cite stigma as a major barrier”  (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2008)



Great lakes region

Great Lakes Region Statewide and Large Scale Anti-Stigma Campaigns

Click here for an overview of anti-stigma regional efforts.










How Community Sectors Are Addressing Stigma


Coming soon!












Laptop and windowGreat Lakes PTTC Products: Preventing and Reducing Stigma


Preventing the Spread of Stigma Part 1, Changing Attitudes & Terminology

Preventing the Spread of Stigma Part 2, Statewide Anti-Stigma Campaigns  




Words Matter ATTC NCOATTC Network Products: Preventing and Reducing Stigma

Our partner project, the ATTC Network, offers a wide array of recorded webinars and publications that address strategies to prevent and reduce stigma. ATTC Regional Centers across the nation have created resources that you can access through the ATTC Network Products & Resources Catalog








R is for Recovery SAMHSA Resources for Preventing and Reducing Stigma

National Recovery Month increases awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders and promotes recovery. 


NIH LogoResources from NIDA

Addressing the Stigma That Surrounds Addiction Nora's Blog, April 22, 2020

Words Matter-Terms to Use and Avoid When Talking About Addiction


Research Research

A growing body of research explores the impact of prevention on stigma.  Click here for a list of peer-reviewed studies. 










People talking in a groupOther Resources for Preventing and Reducing Stigma

Related resources offer guidance on use of non-stigmatizing language, stigma and empowerment, and the impact of stigma in underserved populations. 
Click here to learn more






Page Update: April 24, 2020