U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) introduced legislation last week that she hopes will help end the stigma of substance use disorder and help students get into treatment.
The legislation, “Education for New Dispositions on Stigma (END Stigma) Act, would establish a grant program for colleges and universities to educate students about substance use disorder treatment options.
“Substance use disorder is a disease that impacts almost every family I know, yet there is so much stigma attached to this illness,” Dean said. “We need to start looking at this issue as the disease that it is. Once we can eliminate the stigma for those struggling with substance use disorder, we can focus on treatment and recovery.”
“Illicit drug use disorder is the most stigmatized health condition in the world,” according to the Recovery Research Institute.
The END Stigma Act would award grants to higher education institutions to educate student suffering with substance use disorder about what treatment options are available to them, as well as for programs to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder and programs that would refer students with substance use disorder to treatment providers and facilities.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the stigma associated with substance use disorder is one reason users do not seek treatment for the disorder.
“Untreated drug and alcohol use contribute to tens of thousands of deaths every year and impact the lives of many more. Healthcare already has effective tools, including medications for opioid and alcohol use disorder that could prevent many of these deaths, but they are not being utilized widely enough, and many people who could benefit do not even seek them out. One important reason is the stigma that surrounds people with addiction,” the institute said on its website.