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Ways to Reduce Stigma

Offering compassionate support
Embracing the person living with an addiction, and the family, with compassion and encouragement to get well, can help tremendously.

Displaying kindness to people in vulnerable situations
Often people living with an addiction are vulnerable, feeling powerless and desperate or sometimes feeling they are worthless and do not deserve help. Offering simple kindness can help them take the next step.

Listening while withholding judgment
We’ve all grown up with beliefs and judgments about substance misuse, but we can put those to the side, change the way we perceive someone, and be a better listener.

Seeing a person for who they are, not what drugs they use
We are all unique human beings with many personal attributes that do not disappear when one has a substance use disorder.

Doing your research; learning that addiction is a medical disease
Addiction is a disease of the brain. Learn more about addiction. 

Treating people living with addiction with dignity and respect
People living with an addiction and their families often feel alone. Treating them with dignity and respect can help them break through the stigma and get help.

Avoiding hurtful labels
The way we label someone and speak to others can limit our true perception of a person. Avoid using hurtful or derogatory language. Here are some tips on how to talk about addiction.  

Replacing negative attitudes with evidence-based facts
Find opportunities to pass on facts and positive attitudes about people living with an addiction. If your friends, family, co-workers or even the media present information that is not true, challenge their myths and stereotypes. Let them know how their negative words and incorrect descriptions affect people.

Speaking up when you see someone mistreated because of their drug use
You can speak up and share that substance use disorder is a medical disease similar to any other disease or illness. We don't blame them for their disease, but support them in getting help.

Sharing your own stories of stigma
A person in recovery can make valuable contributions to society. Their stories are powerful and can break the barriers for others to get help!