Resources on De-Stigmatizing Language

Language matters, and research shows that stigmatizing language contributes to barriers for people experiencing substance use disorder to access services. The following resources providing information about moving towards bias-free language, and discuss the ongoing shifts in language related to substance use disorder.

A Guide to Bias-Free Language

From the American Psychological Association 

General guidelines for writing about people without bias across a range of topics and specific guidelines that address individual characteristics.


From the Recovery Research Institute 

A dictionary related to substance use disorder designed to destigmatize and create a unified language. 

Words Matter: Language and Stigma Reduction

From the Peer Recovery Center of Excellence 

A webinar designed to aid participants in identifying the words we use and how they affect individuals with substance use disorder. 

How Language Choice Can Reduce Stigma

From the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration

Understanding the impact of substance use disorder stigma and tips for avoiding stigmatized language. 

Health Equity Style Guide

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Principles and preferred terms for non-stigmatizing, bias-free language for the COVID-19 response. 

Reframing Transition Age Foster Youth

From the Frame Works Institute 

A communication toolkit designed to collectively build the understanding and support we need to change the narrative around transition age foster youth.

Choosing Appropriate Language to Reduce Stigma

From the Nature Portfolio 

The words we use to describe mental illnesses and substance use disorders (addiction to alcohol and other legal and illegal drugs) can impact the likelihood that people will seek help and the quality of the help they receive.

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