Anyone can become dependent on drugs and struggle with addiction. Family, friends and the public often have negative feelings about drug use or behavior. 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.
No one likes to feel judged or devalued. We must reduce the stigma to encourage people to ask for help and recovery.
- 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.