The stigma around substance use is one of the biggest barriers for people seeking and receiving treatment for substance use disorders. Stigma often takes the form of discriminatory attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. Stigma is most apparent in stigmatizing language, which relies heavily on stereotypes to shame and belittle individuals. Words matter. Changing our words can encourage more compassion.
Stigma is not only hurtful, it has real-life consequences. In the field of substance use, stigma is a significant barrier for those with a substance use disorder or who have used substances in the past. Family and friends of people who use substances can also experience stigma.
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