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June 29, 2021

Reps. Trone, McClain Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Confront the Stigma Surrounding Substance Use Disorder

Hannah Muldavin (Trone), 

Stacey Daniels (McClain),

Reps. Trone, McClain Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Confront the Stigma Surrounding Substance Use Disorder 

WASHINGTON — In the wake of a record 89,000 drug overdose deaths last year alone, today, U.S. Representative David Trone (MD-06) and Representative Lisa McClain (MI-10) introduced the Stopping Titles that Overtly Perpetuate (STOP) Stigma Act. The legislation would change the names of federal agencies and programs that currently promote stigmatizing language.

Despite the fact that addiction has been genetically linked and is classified as a physical disease, individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) still fear being perceived negatively. Stigmatizing terms like “substance abuse” lead to snap judgements or, even worse, discrimination in employment, insurance benefits, and housing. By changing the names of these agencies and grants we can end the stigma of addiction and encourage those who are battling this disease to get the help they need.

“All too often addiction is treated like a moral failure instead of a disease that kills tens of thousands of people every year,” said Congressman David Trone, founder of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. “The language we use matters and has weight, which is why it’s our job as leaders to take action against these negative stereotypes. This bill begins to reframe our thinking around substance use disorder to emphasize that those who are battling addiction are not at fault for their illness. I want to thank my colleague Rep. McClain for joining me in this bipartisan effort.

“Treating mental health like all other health is critically important. We’ve made tremendous strides over the years on mental health treatments, and we can’t stop now,” said Congresswoman McClain. “I’m proud to cosponsor the STOP Stigma Act which will examine further ways to destigmatize language around the broad areas of mental health, so individuals are not deterred or embarrassed, but willing and determined to ask for help and answers when they need it most.”

“A shift is happening across the nation in how we talk about addiction and recovery by eliminating stigmatizing, harmful language.  Now is the time for Congress to act on what we now know through research by removing the word “abuse” from the names of federal agencies related to substance use disorder. It is much more than a symbolic gesture; it is for the dignity of those who represent those agencies and the American people who they serve,” said Patty McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer for Faces & Voices of Recovery.

“As the mother of an adult child in recovery, and as a NICU nurse who has cared for many women and newborns impacted by addiction, I have seen firsthand how a shift in attitude and language about the disease of substance use disorder makes a difference. Strides are being made but we must do more,” said Traci Carter from Hagerstown, MD. “Changing how society views and talks about addiction begins with how we refer to organizations and agencies designed to support patients and families, and I truly believe we will be making a difference in the lives of those who are most in need.”

This legislation is endorsed by: Addiction Professionals of North Carolina; American Society of Addiction Medicine; Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness; Behavioral Health Association of Providers; California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals; Faces and Voices of Recovery; The Kennedy Forum; NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals; National Association for Behavioral Healthcare; National Council for Mental Wellbeing; Shatterproof.

To view the bill text, click here.

To view a summary of the bill, click here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress and previously served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the mental health and addiction crises, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.