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The Power of Perceptions and Understanding: Changing How We Deliver Treatment and Recovery Services

This four-part webcast series educated healthcare professionals about the importance of using approaches that are free of discriminatory attitudes and behaviors in treating individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and related conditions, as well as patients living their lives in recovery.


The webcasts featured discussions among experts in the field of addiction treatment, research, and policy. Participants could earn free CME/CE credits for attending the one-hour webcasts. Access the webcasts.

About the Initiative: The Power of Perceptions and Understanding

Millions of people in the U.S. live with a substance use disorder. In 2016, there were 20.1 million people, or 7.5 percent, aged 12 or older in 2016 who had a substance use disorder in the past year. In addition, an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults 18 or older reported having co-occurring disorders. This means that within the previous year, they experienced both a mental illness and a substance use disorder.

Health care providers are often the first contact for addressing their patient’s substance use disorder. There is ample evidence that those who have a substance use disorder often have feelings of shame that impede treatment-seeking. Therefore, it is essential health care providers understand that negative attitudes, beliefs and language can be barriers that prevent those in need from seeking services, or even sharing information, including being in recovery.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, Recovery Research Institute, produced a series of four webcasts to educate healthcare professionals about the problems of discriminatory practices and inaccurate perceptions present in dealing with individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and related conditions. The topics and panel discussions specifically addressed the harm caused by the negative perceptions, and the mitigating results of using discriminatory and prejudicial behaviors toward those who need care for substance use disorders as well as those living their lives in recovery.

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