New courses aim to combat stigma around substance use disorder

INDIANA – Indiana University’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge, in partnership with the School of Nursing is offering two courses to help reduce stigma around substance use disorder.

The online courses, made possible through a grant from the Commission for Higher Education of the State of Indiana, CARES Mental Health Programs, are available to the public at no cost. The courses are an extension of the Grand Challenge’s In This Together project, which serves as a community resource for those wanting to learn more about the topic of substance use disorder and how to make a difference in the lives of Hoosiers and those throughout the country.

So far, more than 650 people have taken the courses. 

Robin Newhouse

“We are excited for the opportunity to offer these courses in which we provide nurses with essential information on substance use disorder and ways we, as a community, can effectively address this issue,” said Robin Newhouse, dean of the School of Nursing IUPUI and lead investigator for IU’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge. “Stigma is one of the biggest barriers to people seeking treatment for this disease. Through conversation and courses like these, we hope to help eliminate stigma and assist one of our most vulnerable populations in receiving the support they need.”

The first course, “In This Together: Community Conversations to Reduce Stigma of Substance Use Disorder,” fosters individual reflection and community discussions. The course has two tracks: trainer and individual learner. The trainer course provides education and guidelines for those interested in educating others around substance use issues and stigma. The second course is for those who would like to educate themselves more on the issue.

The course can be found online. Each student who completes the course will receive a certificate of attendance. A student may complete one or both tracks.

The second course, “Substance Use Disorders: An Introduction for Nurses and Healthcare Professionals,” is aimed at nurses in Indiana and throughout the country and enhances participants’ understanding of nursing practices related to substance use disorders and addiction.

The course can be found online. Completion of the course will result in continuing nursing education contact hours.

Anyone with questions about the courses may contact Susan McIlwain, addictions specialist, family nurse practitioner and Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge team member, at or Lisa Fukuda, operations manager, at

These courses are made possible through work by the IU’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge, the IU School of Nursing and the Commission for Higher Education of the State of Indiana.

Responding to the Addictions Crisis
The Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge initiative engages a broad array of IU’s world-class faculty, as well as IU’s business, nonprofit and government partners. Working together, the groups are contributing to an initiative to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce deaths from addiction, ease the burden of drug addiction on Hoosier communities and improve health and economic outcomes. This initiative is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis — and the largest led by a university.