Page title

About the Initiative

Main page content

Learn how using the best possible language in media portrayals of people with substance use disorders can remove bias and promote a healthier view of the issue.

The Power of Language and Portrayals: What We Hear, What We See is a series of educational webcasts for members of the news and entertainment media. The webcasts explain the best possible terminology to use when addressing substance use disorders. The audience for these webcasts includes:

  • Television and radio producers
  • News and entertainment journalists
  • Screenwriters
  • Authors
  • Consumers

This initiative aims to improve how people with these conditions are portrayed and promote a healthier presentation of substance use issues, free of biased and discriminatory overtones.

The webcasts aired live in February 2017. They are available on SAMHSA’s YouTube Channel.

The Importance of Language and Portrayals

There is a significant increase in stories related to substance use disorders in the news and entertainment media, and the issue continues to grow. The story of individuals and their families and how they deal with the disease of addiction is one worth telling. The courage it takes to find hope, health, and happiness in a life of recovery deserves an up-close and personal view.

The SAMHSA webcast series, produced in partnership with the Entertainment Industries Council, featured discussions between behavioral health professionals, entertainment creators, and people in recovery from substance use disorders. It also explored the treatment and recovery services available to individuals and families in their communities.

We hear stories of people facing life and death situations in fiction or through the news media. It’s only through the accurate depiction of these issues and onscreen portrayals about the reality of hope in recovery that the public can truly understand the issues, change the culture, and embrace those who need services, as well as those living in long-term recovery.

Last Updated

Last Updated: