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Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Speak Out Against Stigma during National Addictions Awareness Week

Ottawa, November 25, 2019

Fact: Substance use disorder is a health condition, not a choice or a moral failing.

Fact: The stigma surrounding substance use is one of the biggest barriers for people recovering from substance use disorders, both in seeking care and receiving it.

That’s why this year, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) is focusing National Addiction Awareness Week (NAAW) on stigma. NAAW runs from November 25 to December 1 and the theme is Stigma Ends with Me.

Ending stigma is a major focus of our work at CCSA. NAAW is part of our mission to address issues of substance use in Canada by providing national leadership and harnessing the power of evidence to generate coordinated action. NAAW highlights issues and solutions to help address harms related to alcohol and other drugs. It also gives Canadians an opportunity to learn more about substance use prevention, to talk about treatment and recovery, and to bring forward solutions for change.

“CCSA is here to shine a spotlight on the issue and empower more Canadians to help reduce the devastating impacts of stigma,” says Rita Notarandrea, CCSA’s CEO. “Ending stigma and breaking down barriers to recovery and wellness or good health are key priorities for CCSA.”

The stigma around substance use is manifest in any attitudes, beliefs or behaviours that discriminate against people who use substances. It often emerges in the form of derogatory language that shames and belittles people. Stigmatizing language and disrespectful behaviour affect the way people see themselves and how they are treated by society.

CCSA created a number of tools and resources that interested groups and partners throughout the country can share and use to help put an end to the harms caused by stigma. We have designed these resources to facilitate conversations to increase awareness of the stigma surrounding people who use substances, their support networks and service providers. The resources are available to view and download now.

“Many people with lived and living experience with substance use have shared their stories and shown us that, on an individual level, stigmatizing words and actions are harmful. Collectively over time, they have a significant impact on people’s health and well-being,” says Notarandrea.

Canadians can show their support online for this campaign by using the hashtag #StigmaEndsWithMe on social media. CCSA encourages others to view the resources and share them throughout NAAW and beyond in our joint effort to facilitate discussion on substance use stigma.

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