According to the Government of Canada, stigma is the negative attitude and beliefs about a group of people due to their circumstances in life. Stigma can impact the quality of life of people who use drugs or are in recovery, and also have an impact on their friends and family members.
Stop Overdose BC points out that negative words can be hurtful, create isolation and prevent people from getting the help they need.
As well, any marginalized population, such as LBGTQ2, Indigenous, low socio-economic status, difficulties with mental health and people with disabilities can be negatively impacted by stigma. Please remember words can be hurtful.
What Peers Have to Say About Stigma
“Stigma makes it hurtful when you are being judged and looked at through a microscope.”
“Stigma makes it difficult to better ourselves and get out from under the thumb.”
“Stimga leads to violence.”
“Stigma can negatively impact people when it comes to obtaining employment or housing by putting up barriers.”
“Stigma could increase the possibility of suicide.”
“Negative energy can be used in a positive way. It doesn’t have to be used negatively to create more.”
“It’s OK to be you.”
How to Stop Stigma
Language matters, so choose your words carefully and change the language you use about drug use.
If we want to de-stigmatize addiction, language needs to be unified. Check out Addictionary.
Start a conversation with someone you love about their drug use.
Be compassionate, respectful and caring.