Addiction Expert: Treatment Providers Can Perpetuate Media Stereotypes of Patients

Providers Look at Stereotypes of PatientsStereotypes about addiction, perpetuated by the media, can be unintentionally reinforced by addiction professionals, according to a New York addiction expert.

“When you go to a diabetes clinic, you don’t expect your doctor to have diabetes. But many people treating those who are addicted have themselves been treated for addiction, and tend to use the same lingo as their patients to make them feel more comfortable,” Dr. Edwin A. Salsitz, MD, Medical Director, Office-Based Opioid Therapy at Beth Israel Medical Center, said at a recent meeting, “Solutions to the Addiction Crisis.” “They use terms like ‘dirty’ or ‘clean’ to refer to a urine drug test, instead of the more medical ‘positive’ or ‘negative.’ Using slang in addiction medicine can be confusing and demeaning, and reinforce the stigma attached to addiction.”

Salsitz encourages his colleagues to choose their words carefully. “We need to use medical terms for addiction medicine,” he said. “I never use the word ‘addict’—that pigeonholes someone, and defines who they are. I always talk about addicted patients.”

Full story of treatments based on stereotypes at DrugFree.org

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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

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Quantum Units Continuing Education provides online CEU training's to licensed professional mental health therapists, counselors, social workers and nurses. Our blog provides updates in the field of news and research related to mental health and substance abuse treatment.