For individuals and families impacted by substance use, stigma is an ever present reality that results in discrimination, reluctance to access treatments and supports and contributes to overdoses. Stigma contributes to feelings of shame, hopelessness and prevents individuals and families from asking for help when they need it.
The good news is that we can end stigma. In fact, we all have a role to play to challenge the stigma against individuals and families impacted by substance use. Small efforts can make a big difference in the lives of people struggling with substance use.
What can you do today to make a difference? Consider the language you use when talking about someone who uses substances. The words we use shapes the way we think about addiction and people affected by substance use. It also influences the way we treat others and how we choose to care for them. Use People-First language and language that reflects the medical nature of substance use. Instead of "addict" or "abuser" consider using "person with a substance use disorder." Avoid slang or idioms like "dirty" or "clean" test results and use "positive" or "negative" test results instead. And use language that promotes recovery. Instead of referring to someone as "clean", use "maintained recovery" instead.
Remember that words have power. One of the easiest ways to make a difference in the lives of people who use substances is to promote and use person-first and recovery-oriented language. That is why we are asking you to join us in taking the pledge to end the harm caused by stigmatizing language.
The Addiction Matters Kamloops Coalition would like to acknowledge the valued support of our partner, Interior Health, for their many contributions to this project as well as the support from the following organizations:
· Community Action Initiative
· Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
· Overdose Emergency Response Centre
· Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
The Addiction Matters Kamloops (AMK) coalition was formed in 2015 on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc people to bring together community groups, organizations and individuals who are working in the field of substance use and are committed to increasing compassion and awareness and ending the stigma directed to individuals and families impacted by substance use. Since its start, AMK has lead various community projects and engagement initiatives and continues to be committed to supporting community level coordination and collaboration.