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Changing Language to Change Care
SUD 101 Core Curriculum Overview

Curriculum overview:  While healthcare professionals are often on the front lines of treating substance use disorders, most have limited (if any) training in this area. The SUD 101 Core Curriculum was created to provide a foundation of the current research, resources, and support needed to increase healthcare professionals’ competence and confidence in the care of their patients across the continuum of care. This activity, Changing Language to Change Care: Stigma and Substance Use Disorder is part of the 23-module curriculum. Please see below for a summary of module 2 out of 23:
Module 2 Overview
Title: Changing Language to Change Care: Stigma and Substance Use Disorder

Sarah E. Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Module Description: Language can be used intentionally or unintentionally to perpetuate stigma. The language used towards people who use drugs or alcohol and people with addiction includes many stigmatizing terms which have been shown to increase negative attitudes among the public and clinicians. Examples include words like “abuse,” “abuser,” “addict,” and “dirty.” There are also more subtle ways that language can be used to frame issues related to addiction or substance use which can enhance stigma. Nationally there has been growing awareness around the importance of language and the need to use medically appropriate, person first terminology. Changing our language is a crucial component of reducing stigma to improve the lives and health of people who use drugs or alcohol and people with addiction. This module will discuss the importance of language when discussing substance use and review ways to improve language to improve care. 

Educational Objectives:

  • Describe three examples of stigma in the way the medical system approaches people with substance use disorder
  • Understand the importance of using medically appropriate language for substance use disorder
  • Use accurate and person-centered terminology when discussing substance use disorder
Availability: On-Demand
Expires on Jan 12, 2026
Cost: FREE
Credit Offered:
0.75 CME Credit
0.75 PA-CME Credit
0.75 Other Professionals Credit
0.75 Nursing Credit
0.75 Pharmacy Credit
0.75 IPCE Credit
The content on this site is intended solely to inform and educate medical professionals. This site shall not be used for medical advice and is not a substitute for the advice or treatment of a qualified medical professional.

Funding for this initiative was made possible by cooperative agreement no. 1H79TI086770 and grant no. 1H79TI085588 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

8-Hour DEA Training Inquiries, email PCSS-MOUD.


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