Patient Care > Therapeutic Scripting

Therapeutic Scripting

Sometimes, substance use makes us as caregivers uncomfortable, and if can be difficult to find the rights words to connect with our patients. Therapeutic language can help create a critical caring connection between the nurse and the SUD patient. Hospitalization unexpectedly places patients with active SUD in an environment with restrictions that may trigger them to feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and out of control. Therapeutic, non-judgmental language helps create a positive, supportive environment or care that, particularly for SUD patients, can make all the difference.

Scripted Language Examples:

"We want to make sure that all our patients get the best care possible and so we ask all our patients questions regarding substance use disorder. Although you may not have come to the hospital to stop using substances your safety is important to us."

"It will help us to know the quantity and duration of your use as this will help us provide you appropriate medications to ensure your safety and comfort. It is also helpful for us to know if you have ever been hospitalized for withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines, as withdrawal from these substances can be particularly dangerous."

"Have you ever experienced withdrawl from opioids in the past? What medications were most helpful for you?"

"Our goal is that you receive the highest quality of care."

"We’ll keep all information you share with us confidential and the only people who see this information will be members of your care team and other staff who are authorized to see your medical record."

Teaching and Safety

Addressing some of the key factors when a patient is admitted with Substance Use Disorder

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Harvard Health Blog:

Words matter: The language of addiction and life-saving treatments

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM
Medical Director
Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

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