Language Matters: Challenging Stigmatization Language about Addiction (Webinar Recording)

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Language Matters: Challenging Stigmatization Language about Addiction
Jessica Hulsey, BA

February 14, 2023, 1:00pm-2:30pm EST


Research has shown that the words we use to describe substance use disorders (SUD) and recovery have a significant impact on those struggling and how they are treated. While evidence shows that SUDs are medical illnesses, it is still too common for SUDs to be characterized as a moral failing or character flaw. Disparaging words are, unfortunately, still used to describe SUDs and the individuals suffering from them. Research suggests that improving our language when we describe addiction, such as using person-first language when talking about the disease, restores and empowers the humanity of individuals, rather than defining them by their illness.


  • Understand that addiction is a medical condition, and the words we use to describe it should be non-stigmatizing.
  • Understand the importance of person-first language and how to implement it when talking about substance use disorders (SUD).
  • Understand the role stigma plays in keeping individuals with SUD from seeking help.


Jessica HusleyJessica Hulsey, BA is the Executive Director of the Addiction Policy Forum, a national nonprofit organization that leads the fight against the deadly consequences of addiction and helps patients, families, and communities affected by the disease. Jessica has more than 25 years of experience in the field of prevention, treatment, and policy solutions to address substance use disorders and has collaborated with our nation’s top scientists to translate the science of addiction into digestible content for patients, families, and other key audiences.


February 14, 2023
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