Alcohol Use Disorders (24) Stigma (4) How to reduce stigma? (2)

7 February, 2024

Thank you Eduardo for highlighting the importance of using the right terminology: alcohol use disorders. You ask "What else should we do?" to combat stigma.

I asked ChatGPT and top of the list was 'Education and Awareness: Increase public awareness and understanding of alcoholism as a medical condition rather than a moral failing. Provide information about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for alcohol addiction.'

Do people have adequate access to reliable information about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for alcohol addiction, in a language they can understand?

ChatGPT also highlighted the importance of 'Share Personal Stories: Encourage individuals who have overcome alcohol addiction to share their stories of recovery. Personal narratives can help reduce stigma by humanizing the experiences of those affected by alcoholism and demonstrating that recovery is possible.'

What information is available for the individual with alcohol use disorder, their loved ones, and the general public? It's likely that many will first seek information online. What are the best sources of information? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (should this be renamed as the National Institute on Alcohol Use Disorders?) has a booklet in English and Spanish: The UK National Health Service has similar advice for individuals:

To my non-expert eye, the NIAAA and NHS advice looks good, but they are both text-heavy and may not be accessible for people with low literacy. What other information is available for the general public? Videos? How easy is it for people to find the information they need?

Later, when alcohol use disorder is more severe, perhaps a different kind of information is needed to encourage the person to recognise their problem and take action, for example to see their doctor. Or the clinician may identify alcohol use disorder incidentally as part of a health check. How the clinician immediately responds to or addresses this situation will be very important. We'll be looking at this more in Q2: Do health workers have adequate knowledge to prevent and manage alcohol use disorders among their patients?

Best wishes, Neil

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: