First Lady of North Dakota Kathryn Helgaas Burgum created Recovery Reinvented to end the shame and stigma that often accompanies people in recovery from addiction. As a person in long term recovery herself, she saw the need to empower people to seek help by openly talking about addiction and reality of recovery. Recovery Reinvented holds events in North Dakota with the goal of ending shame and stigma and creating recovery supportive communities. This report is part of the Addiction Policy Forum’s Spotlight series which highlights innovative programs to address the opioid crisis.
Reducing the stigma surrounding substance use disorders requires changing people’s attitudes and behaviors, a challenging task many state and local government and community organizations have undertaken. In this collection, we provide guidance on creating your own community anti-stigma campaigns and examples of programs currently in operation across the country.
Our August collection addresses one of the most significant issues surrounding the opioid crisis: the sigma faced by people who suffer from addictions. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine defines stigma as a range of negative attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that are associated with certain conditions such as addiction.
The Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) created the Understanding Drug Related Stigma training program in partnership with the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute. According to HRC, the training objectives include: Understanding the meaning of stigma, discrimination, and related concepts Identifying the various ways drug users experience stigma Exploring key sources of preexisting stigma and discrimination including stereotypes and labels placed on drug users Identifying consequences of drug-related stigma on drug users’ willingness to access services Considering ways to address stigma at individual and agency levels Gaining conceptual and practical tools toward promoting attitudes that challenge stigma and support drug users’ needs
One of the most important steps we can take to counter stigma surrounding substance use and addiction is to be careful about the language we use. Multiple studies have shown that how we talk about substance use and people who use substances can affect people’s engagement in treatment and achievement of recovery. This collection contains resources that explain the importance of carefully choosing words and provides examples of stigma-free language:
As part of CLOUD’s collection dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding substance use disorder, we provide several videos that may be used in education or public information campaigns.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are effective at treating opioid use disorder, objections to medication assisted treatment (MAT) are still common. The resources in this collection are intended to help dispell the myths and negative stereotypes about MAT.
The Faith in Harm Reduction online toolkit is a national collection of faith and community leaders who work together to address stigma against people who use drugs and advance liberation, health, and wholeness for communities impacted by overdose, trauma, stigma of substance use, and radicalized drug policy.
The Workplace Supported Recovery website, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes an explanation of recovery-supportive workplaces, a definition of recovery, and specific recommendation for reducing the stigma against substance use disorder in the workplace.
This toolkit on pregnancy and substance use from a harm reduction perspective includes information intended for pregnant and parenting people who use drugs, their loved ones, and their service providers.