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Reducing Stigmas Around Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Substance use disorder (SUD) affects millions of people in the United States every year. Despite this, there is still a big problem with stigmas surrounding addiction and addiction treatment. SUD occurs when a person develops a problem with illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol. 

When excessive use of substances becomes out of control, it can creep into every area of a person’s life. It can cause problems in their personal relationships and affect their ability to fulfill their daily obligations. SUD quickly affects a person’s mental and physical health as well. 

Stigmas Surrounding SUD

When SUD goes untreated, it can lead to severe health problems and even death. Lives are negatively impacted every day because of addiction and addictive behaviors. While there are many effective tools for treating SUD, including therapy and medications, many people who desperately need treatment don’t seek help. One reason for this could be the stigma that still surrounds people struggling with SUD.

SUD is one of the most stigmatized mental health disorders. In general, people often think that a person with SUD is choosing to engage in harmful and destructive behaviors. They often have trouble believing that SUD is a chronic condition, just like heart disease or asthma, that requires medical treatment. Addiction causes damage to several brain functions and changes the way a person functions physically.

It is unfortunate that people who struggle with SUD are so looked down on. When a person is caught in a cycle of substance use, they need extra support and empathy. However, they are often ostracized, which can lead them to feel negative about themselves.

How to Reduce SUD Stigmas

We need to make a significant societal change in our attitudes about SUD. If we do so, we are going to make a difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction. There are several areas that we can focus on to help facilitate this change – not only for ourselves but the people that we interact with.


The most important factor in reducing the stigma surrounding SUD is correcting all the misinformation and lack of understanding that is prevalent in society. It is crucial that people understand the true effect that substances can have on our mental and physical functions. Changes to the brain during addiction are influenced heavily by factors that a person can’t control, like genetics or childhood experiences.

We need to educate ourselves about the effects of SUD and how it can interfere with a person’s basic ability to function. If we have a firm understanding of SUD, then we will be able to point out incorrect information when we hear it. We can talk with mental health professionals that specialize in SUD, attend psychoeducational groups, or research issues on our own. 


In order to end stigma, we must consider communication in several ways. Having open and honest conversations about addiction and the stigmas that surround them is a great way to raise awareness. It will get people thinking about the misconceptions they have about SUD. We also need to be very careful with the language that we use when we talk about SUD. Using person-first language is a great tool. Avoiding derogatory terms associated with addiction is also important. 


We can help raise awareness in ourselves and others by educating ourselves and paying attention to how we communicate about education. Raising awareness can also mean volunteering in local organizations that share the same goals about ending stigmas surrounding SUD. When we work side by side with people from all walks of life, it can make it easier to see our similarities and be empathetic to each other. 

Malibu Wellness Ranch

Nobody should have to live with a substance abuse problem because they are afraid of what people might think of them if they decide to get help. People should be able to admit when they are struggling and expect to be treated with compassion and respect. At Malibu Wellness Ranch, we believe this wholeheartedly and strive to show our commitment to ending stigma in all our dealings with our clients, their families, and the general public. 

Malibu Wellness Ranch was established as an addiction treatment facility at a property that was previously a popular ranch. With 800 acres in the Pocono mountain range, we are able to offer a variety of outdoor experience-based therapies and recreational activities. Our goal is to offer a destination for continuous treatment that will help our clients be successful in long-term recovery from SUD.

At Malibu Wellness Ranch, we offer four different levels of treatment that allow our clients a wide range of opportunities. We offer several therapy and group session options. Our facility also works with clients to find a treatment plan that best fits their needs. As they follow their treatment plan, our clients will learn recovery skill sets and be able to apply them in a clinically-structured environment.


Every person who struggles with substance use disorder (SUD) deserves to be treated with kindness, compassion, and respect. We can end the stigma surrounding addiction by educating ourselves on the true nature of addiction. When we learn to communicate in respectful language backed by education on the issue, we can advocate for ourselves and others more effectively. At Malibu Wellness Ranch, we are committed to providing the best care for each of our clients. This includes empowering them to share their stories and advocate for themselves once they leave our treatment program. Call (800) 862-5428 for more information on how we help reduce stigmas through our treatment program and whole-person approach.