Stop the Stigma

Let’s change the conversation.

Anyone can become dependent on drugs and struggle with addiction. No one likes to feel judged or devalued. 2 out of 3 of us know someone struggling right now. We must reduce the stigma to encourage people to ask for help and recovery. Every community is touched by opioid misuse—rural, urban, tribal, large or small.

Family, friends, and the public often have negative feelings about drug use or behavior. Blaming, shaming, ignoring and rejecting someone struggling with an opioid use disorder creates stigma and it can keep a person from wanting to seek treatment or get healthcare.

Addiction is not a moral failing and we need to remember that we can all change the conversation and decrease the stigma around drug use and addiction. People with a substance use disorder have a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully treated, but stigma negatively impacts a person’s willingness to get treatment or health care and can cause significant self-esteem and mental health issue.

What can we do?

  • Offer compassionate support.
  • Display kindness to people in vulnerable situations.
  • Listen while withholding judgment.
  • See a person for who they are, not what drugs they use.
  • Learn about how drug dependency works.
  • Treat people with drug dependency with dignity and respect.
  • Avoid hurtful labels.
  • Replace negative attitudes with evidence-based facts.
  • Speak up when you see someone mistreated because of their drug use.

We have a name. We have a history. We have a personality. We come from families and communities. We have a story to tell.