Image to illustrate drug abuse.
A new approach to support the fight against drug abuse. Photo: Pixabay.

Shatterproof and Elevance Health Foundation team up to reduce stigma around substance use

The initiative will deepen the knowledge and understanding of healthcare workers.


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With this project, which seeks to support marginalized communities, an intervention will be carried out aimed at reducing prejudices around addiction in the health care community, especially in those of the Latino population.

Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, noted:

With funding provided by the Elevance Health Foundation combined with Shatterproof’s proven training methods, we will help prepare a new wave of healthcare professionals to address this critical shortfall.

This initiative, sponsored by the national nonprofit organization Shatterproof, and the Elevance Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health Inc., will reach approximately 3,000 healthcare professionals across the country to ensure patients are treated with dignity and open mind when seeking treatment.

Battle against stigma

Through an investment of $5.4 million, the project will address stigma and discrimination as a major barrier people face when seeking treatment and encounter during recovery.

Using an approach aimed at improving outcomes among communities receiving suboptimal care in the healthcare system, Elevance Health Foundation and Shatterproof will work for three years to reach healthcare professionals in a variety of specialties and settings.

Shatterproof will be tasked with educating these medical professionals on how stigmatizing attitudes toward patients with substance use disorders can negatively affect outcomes, while learning how to reduce such bias in interactions with patients, specifically interactions with Latino community.

“We know that significant disparities in health care access exist among Latinx/a/o communities. That coupled with a lack of access to medical care, language barriers, lack of insurance, and multi-fold impacts from the pandemic shows a vast need for education and awareness of the growing addiction crisis in our country,” added Mendell.

Urgent commitment

According to the 2021 Unbreakable Addiction Stigma Index, a one-of-a-kind tool designed to assess levels of stigma and developed in conjunction with The Hartford, healthcare professionals reported similar levels of public and structural stigma toward those with a substance use disorder compared to the general population.

As part of its larger $30 million commitment to treat substance use disorder, the Elevance Health Foundation has set the following goals:

  • Prevention and early intervention of risk factors leading to substance use disorders
  • Improved access and quality of treatment to reduce morbidity and mortality for people with substance use disorders
  • Community support to promote lifelong recovery

“Today, one in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year, and substance use disorder affects more than 40 million Americans age 12 and over. While the numbers of people experiencing mental health and substance use disorders are staggering, stigma often prevents individuals and many communities from seeking the help they need,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer, Elevance Health.


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