addiction stigma

The opioid addiction crisis is getting worse, and it's often reported on in desperate terms. But to the people working on the front lines of the problem, there are known and proven approaches that can help. This series introduces you to these people and how they're tackling the issue in their communities — with hope, compassion and strength.

First, Do No Harm

Christine Herman

Stigma Keeps Some Doctors From Treating Drug Addiction

Aug 16, 2017
Edwin Torres / GroundTruth

Internal medicine physician Chinazo Cunningham runs a family health center in New York's South Bronx.

She has an appointment with Dinah, one of her regular patients. This is a routine checkup but a bit different — Dinah is a recovering heroin user. She takes buprenorphine, a prescription medication that treats her addiction and prevents relapse. Cunningham prescribes Dinah this drug and all of her other medications during her quarterly visits to the health center.

Reframing The Language Of Addiction: Researcher Pushes To Strike The Term 'Abuse'

Jun 9, 2016

Last month, Dr. John Kelly gave a presentation at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington D.C. It's an important agency that funds more than a billion dollars in addiction and treatment research.

Kelly, an addiction researcher at Harvard and director of Massachusetts General Hospital's Recovery Research Institute, talked to the group of 30 or 40 top officials, he recalls, about how language can affect people's attitudes and behaviors about certain diseases and conditions. But at the end of his 90 minute talk, he says he just blurted this out. 

"I said, know 'I'm being bold here, but I think it's time that we do change the names of our institutes. If not now, when?'"

So, standing before a group of important people who run a major federal agency, which has carried the same name for four decades, Dr. Kelly basically asked them to get rid of their agency's name...because he says that word 'abuse' is outdated.