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AMERSA People & Passion, Episode 2: Stigma – The Not So Silent Killer

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The use of alcohol and other drugs is rising in the United States in the setting of Covid-19. In the 12-month period ending in May 2020, more than 80,000 people in the U.S. lost their lives to a drug overdose, the highest number ever recorded in a single year. Substance use and addiction affect millions of people across the nation as healthcare systems work to create innovative solutions related to prevention, early identification, treatment and recovery. One major barrier to accomplishing this monumental goal is the stigma experienced by people with substance use disorders. Stigma creates feelings of shame, limits access to care, and ultimately contributes to challenging and life-threatening cycles of addiction. While we know how to define stigma and how it impacts individuals and families, how we eliminate stigma specifically in healthcare settings to improve care and outcomes is poorly understood. In this podcast, we will describe the many barriers stigma forces on people with substance use disorders and how healthcare can support people with substance use disorders.

Cheyenne Johnson is Saulteaux (Ojibwe) and of mixed Settler ancestry and is a member of the Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty 4 Reserve (Valley River) in western Manitoba. She is a Registered Nurse who works in addiction and substance use care in Vancouver. She is currently a member at large with AMERSA and the Co-Interim Executive Director at British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Nursing at University of British Columbia and actively collaborates with interdisciplinary clinicians, educators and researchers across Canada.


Dr. Deborah S. Finnell is a doctorally-prepared registered nurse, certified in addictions nursing and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She is currently AMERSA’s President Elect, an Associate Editor for AMERSA’s journal Substance Abuse, and led the publication of AMERSA’s substance use competencies for nursing.

Dr. Finnell has been a staunch advocate for vulnerable populations, seeking to address the bias, prejudice and discrimination that leads to stigma. She is a coauthor of the seminal publication , “Confronting inadvertent stigma and pejorative language in addiction scholarship,” has published her plenary address at the 2018 AMERSA conference on the neural basis of stigma, and has evaluated the impact of a substance use-related curriculum on students’ attitudes and perceptions.

Richard Bottner, DHA, PA-C is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and a physician assistant in the Division of Hospital medicine at Dell Seton Medical Center.

Bottner is also the Director of Support Hospital Opioid Use Treatment (SHOUT) Texas, a program seeking to increase access to opioid use disorder treatment in hospitals across the state and is the Co-PI on a grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges to develop and disseminate the Reducing Stigma Education Tools (ReSET) modules.

Published:
09/13/2021
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