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USA. A NACoA Course: Addressing the Stigma around Substance Use Disorders 

Substance use disorders (SUD) are some of the most highly stigmatized health conditions worldwide, and stigma creates barriers to early intervention, screening, treatment, and effective recovery, particularly in healthcare and criminal justice settings.

This course was developed by Addiction Policy Forum, National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA) and JCOIN to educate individuals and families about the latest stigma research, as well as equip them with tools to respond. Participants will learn about the different types of stigma, the social construct of stigma, the importance of using non-stigmatizing language, and innovations to reduce stigma in health and justice settings. The course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, and features leading experts on stigma within the SUD and criminal justice fields. (Addiction Policy Forum, USA, Januar 2022)


Stigmatization of people with alcohol use disorders: An updated systematic review of population studies. 

Kilian C, Manthey J, Carr S, Hanschmidt F, Rehm J, Speerforck S, Schomerus G. 

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2021 May;45(5):899-911. doi: 10.1111/acer.14598. Epub 2021 May 10. PMID: 33970504.


Revisiting the relationship between contact and physician attitudes toward patients with opioid use disorder. 

Dhanani LY, Franz B, Hall TK. 

Addict Behav Rep. 2021 Sep 3;14:100372. doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2021.100372. PMID: 34938833; PMCID: PMC8664778.


Attitudes Toward Organ Donation for Persons Who Have a Substance Use Disorder Relative to Other Health Conditions. 

Grubb CJ, Bergeria CL, Huhn AS, Dunn KE. 

Front Psychiatry. 2021 Nov 12;12:698645. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.698645. PMID: 34867506; PMCID: PMC8633394.


Ending human rights abuses in drug control: Oral statement to the Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at HRC47 (July 2, 2021Index Number: IOR 40/4369/2021)

Amnesty International welcomes the study prepared by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention relating to drug policies (A/HRC/47/40), which provides an important contribution to the understanding of the widespread human rights violations that are facilitated by drug control regimes and provides fundamental recommendations to transform drug laws and policies to ensure they protect people, not harm them. (amnesty international, UK, 02.07.2021)


On International Human Rights Day, UN drugs body silences UN human rights expert on ground-breaking report

Friday, 10 December 2021 (Vienna, Austria) - In an unprecedented, last-minute decision, the lead UN drugs body has blocked the presentation of a report from a group of independent human rights experts that calls out governments for serious human rights abuses committed in the war on drugs. IDPC, 10.12.2021)


Less than human: dehumanisation of people who use heroin

Harry Sumnall, Amanda Atkinson, Suzanne Gage, Ian Hamilton, Catharine Montgomery

Health Education, ISSN: 0965-4283, Article publication date: 6 September 2021



Schottland. Does the stigma around drugs and the people who use them cost lives? (Video)

Tackling stigma. Why the Taskforce sees tackling stigma as a priority, and how it hopes to help achieve this. (Scottish Drug Death Taskforce, Schottland, Video, 01:32, 30.07.2020)


Schottland. Tackling Stigma - Removing barriers and encouraging anyone to seek support.

Does the stigma around drugs and the people who use them cost lives?

Evidence demonstrates that many who could benefit from treatment can be discouraged from doing so by language, attitudes and behaviours that appear judgmental, even if these are displayed unwittingly. Stigma can negatively impact the morale of those providing support services, and friends and families of those at risk can often feel the effects of stigma by association, at a time when they too deserve support. (Scottish Drug Death Taskforce, Schottland, 27.08.2021)


Russland. The award winning animated documentary Kostya Proletarsky is now available online!

The animated documentary is based on the true story of Kostya Proletarsky, a drug user and HIV activist who died as a result of mistreatment and torture at a Russian prison. The animation features original audio interviews with Kostya and his mother Irina, and aims to commemorate Kostya and many others who have not survived prisons around the world. 

On 19 June 2009 Kostya Proletarsky, a drug user and HIV activist, died of tuberculosis meningitis at the Botkin Hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia. His death was the result of three years of mistreatment and torture at the prison facility No. 4 in Karelia, Russia. In the prison camp, Kostya was denied the right to continue his HIV medication. Inmates were regularly beaten and tortured. (Drug Reporter, Ungarn, 01.12.2021, Video, 30:01)


Learning About and Destigmatizing Substance Use Disorders: a Video-Based Educational Module Using Simulated Patients. 

Fuehrlein, B., Hochschild, A., Goldman, M. et al.

Acad Psychiatry (2021). doi.org/10.1007/s40596-021-01559-z


ASAM Updates Definitions, Terminology, and Language 

The ASAM Quality Improvement Council (QIC) is pleased to share the initial results of work conducted by the Terminology and Definitions (TAD) Subcommittee.  The subcommittee is tasked with keeping current, the language, terminology, and definitions used by ASAM in order to support communication, research, and publication efforts. Definitions and terms updated by the subcommittee, and subsequently approved by both the QIC and the ASAM Board of Directors are released once they are approved. The first of these definitions are important in helping inform the perspective on medication use for the treatment of substance use disorders. (ASAM – American Society of Addiction Medicine, USA, 15.11.2021)


The impact of stigma and discrimination affecting people with hepatitis B 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 296 million people worldwide live with hepatitis B, with the virus claiming nearly 900,000 lives every year. The hepatitis B virus attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. People living with the virus are at a higher risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer, the third most deadly cancer.


In our white paper, we shed light on the effects of the stigma and discrimination faced by some people affected by hepatitis B and illustrate the lived experiences of those impacted by the virus. (World Hepatitis Alliance, UK, November 2021)


Singapur. Singapore halts execution of Malaysian drug offender with low IQ after he contracts Covid

Malaysian man Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was to be hanged on Wednesday morning. (The Independent, UK, 09.11.2021)


Nora's Blog. To End the Drug Crisis, Bring Addiction Out of the Shadows 

Far too often, shame and stigma fuel addiction and prevent treatment, argues Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But replacing judgment with compassion can save lives. (Nora's Blog., USA, 08.11.2021)


Singapur. Nagaenthran: Family prays for miracle to halt execution of man with low IQ

Sarmila Dharmalingam is praying for a miracle. Her brother, Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, is set to be hanged in Singapore's Changi Prison. 

"When I'm alone and I think of my brother, there is pain. But [we need to] be brave and keep on praying - anything can happen," she told the BBC.

In 2009, then 21-year-old Nagaenthran was caught trying to smuggle heroin into Singapore from Malaysia. 

Nagaenthran was initially due to be hanged on Wednesday morning, but was granted a last-minute stay of execution. On Tuesday he was found to have Covid-19 and the execution was further delayed.

The Malaysian citizen was sentenced to death despite an assessment by a medical expert that he has an IQ of 69 - a level recognised as indicating an intellectual disability. (BBC, UK, 09.11.2021)


The impact of disease-related knowledge on perceptions of stigma among patients with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection. 

Saine ME, Szymczak JE, Moore TM, Bamford LP, Barg FK, Forde KA, et al. (2021) 

PLoS ONE 16(10): e0258143. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0258143


Perceived healthcare stigma among patients in opioid substitution treatment: a qualitative study

Garpenhag L, Dahlman D. 

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2021 Oct 26;16(1):81. doi: 10.1186/s13011-021-00417-3. PMID: 34702338; PMCID: PMC8549326.


USA. Discrimination against transgender people associated with higher rates of substance use and treatment

Transgender people face discrimination in a variety of settings, including the housing market, employment, health care, and interactions with law enforcement. Building on earlier research, this study shows a positive correlation between the severity of discrimination faced by transgender people and higher rates of substance use, substance use disorder, and substance use disorder treatment. (Recovery Research Institute, USA, Oktober 2021)


Singapur. Joint statement urging Singapore to halt impending execution of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam for a drug offence

Nagaenthran, a 32 years’ old Malaysian citizen with an intellecutal disability, was arrested in 2009, and sentenced to death in 2011 for importing with intent of trafficking 42.72 grams of diamorphine. His execution has been scheduled for 10th November 2021. 

Harm Reduction International (HRI), the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), alongside 27 organisations and networks, urge the Singaporean Government to immediately halt the impending execution of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam; and call on UN entities, the European Union, and all relevant stakeholders to take urgent action. (HRI – Harm Reduction International, UK, 03.11.2021)


'No one believed me': A global overview of women facing the death penalty for drug offences 

The punitiveness of the international drug control system has been largely responsible for the growth of the world’s female prison population in the last three decades. In countries that punish drug offenses with death—a violation of international law—a large majority of the women on death row were convicted of drug-related offenses. This report examines the circumstances that lead women to commit or be charged with drug offenses and the impact of gender bias on the criminal process they experience. (By Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and Harm Reduction International (HRI), 2021)


Impact of experienced HIV stigma on health is mediated by internalized stigma and depression: results from the people living with HIV stigma index in Ontario. 

Lo Hog Tian JM, Watson JR, Ibáñez-Carrasco F, Tran B, Parsons JA, Maunder RG, Card KG, Baral S, Hui C, Boni AR, Ajiboye M, Lindsay JD, Rourke SB; Ontario HIV Stigma Index Team. 

BMC Public Health. 2021 Sep 9;21(1):1595. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11596-w. PMID: 34496825; PMCID: PMC8427956. 


My brother

Kaylynn Purdy

CMAJ September 13, 2021 193 (36) E1433-E1434; doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.210648 

Dr. Kaylynn Purdy shares the sad but all too familiar story of her brother, Blake, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his mid-twenties, subsequently developed a substance use disorder and died from an overdose. She witnessed the tragic way in which our society treats persons with mental health issues and substance use disorders and the stigma and isolation that occurs, which only compounds their suffering. Dr. Purdy captures the humanity of her brother, and his story is a reminder to us as a society to remember that humanity as we encounter people who are homeless, struggling with mental illness or substance use disorders.


Malaysia. Malaysia’s Drug Law Condemns Vulnerable Women to Death 

Most women on death row in Malaysia have been sentenced under a strict drug trafficking law that fails to take their vulnerable socioeconomic realities into account. (New Naratif, Malaysia, 21.09.2021)


‘Treatment in Liberty’ - Human Rights and Compulsory Detention for Drug Use

Rick Lines, Julie Hannah, Giada Girelli, 

Human Rights Law Review, 2021;, ngab022, doi.org/10.1093/hrlr/ngab022


US national randomized study to guide how best to reduce stigma when describing drug-related impairment in practice and policy. 

Kelly, J. F., Greene, M. C., and Abry, A. (2021) A 

Addiction, 116: 1757– 1767. doi.org/10.1111/add.15333


"Don't Label Them as Addicts!" Student Pharmacists' Views on the Stigma Associated with Opioid use Disorder. 

Cernasev A, Frederick KD, Hall EA, Veve MP, Hohmeier KC. 

Innov Pharm. 2021 Jun 10;12(2):10.24926/iip.v12i2.3388. doi: 10.24926/iip.v12i2.3388. PMID: 34345523; PMCID: PMC8326708.


Exploring impaired insight in opioid addiction: the role of self-stigma

Eidenmueller K., Grimm F., Hermann D., Frischknecht U., Kiefer F., Dziobek I., and Bekier N. K.

Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems, Published Ahead of Print, August 15, 2021


Physician Use of Stigmatizing Language in Patient Medical Records. 

Park J, Saha S, Chee B, Taylor J, Beach MC. 

JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7):e2117052. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.17052


Choosing appropriate language to reduce the stigma around mental illness and substance use disorders. 

Volkow, N.D., Gordon, J.A. & Koob, G.F. 

Neuropsychopharmacol. (2021). doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01069-4