VIDEO: ‘Welcoming’ language key to patients’ recovery from substance use, mental illness
A physician’s choice of words can make a difference in a patient’s chances of overcoming mental illness and substance use disorders, National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora D. Volkow, MD, told Healio Primary Care.
Data indicate that in the United States, almost 90% of patients with substance use disorders and 35% of those with serious mental illness do not seek treatment, according to a Neuropsychopharmacology paper that Volkow recently co-authored.
In addition, more than 17% of people with a substance use disorder in 2019 did not seek treatment “due to concerns that their neighbors or community would have a negative opinion of them,” Volkow and colleagues wrote.
This reinforces the notion that physicians must choose their words carefully when treating their patients with these conditions, Volkow said.
“[For patients] to go seeking help when they are feeling the most vulnerable and deal with language that stigmatizes is actually going to interfere with the likelihood of that person wanting to return,” she said.
In this video perspective, Volkow explains the importance of using “welcoming” language to treat patients with substance use disorders and mental illness.