Sign In


Stigma Ends Here

The experience of substance use is different for each person and how it affects people depends on many factors. Substance use disorders are often connected to a person’s lived experience, mental health and behaviour patterns. Addiction is caused by dependence, resulting from changes in the brain that cause cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As a result, using substances may be a choice for some people but for those with substance use disorders, it really isn’t a choice and quitting may be extremely difficult even with support.

Take Action to End Stigma

Choose Compassion

  • Acknowledge a person as a human being who should be treated with dignity, care and respect.
  • See a person for who they are and what they can be, and not by what drugs they use.
  • Recognize that your own experiences, or lack of experiences, should not be used to make assumptions or judgements about another person's life.
  • Give support to the person and remember to extend support to their family members and loved ones. Listen to their stories, be there for them when they need you, and acknowledge how hard the situation may be for them.
  • Focus on the person's lived experiences and the strengths that they have, rather than what they're doing wrong.

Choose your words carefully

  • Use person-first language. Avoid using hurtful labels such as drug abuse, substance misuse, drug user, or addict; replace with the terms substance use and a person with a substance use disorder.

  • Accept a person's situation and avoid judgement. Acknowledge what the person is going through, how hard it might be to talk about their substance use disorder, and avoid passing blame.

  • Replace negative assumptions with expressions of care and concern. 

  • Listen and avoid lecturing. Allow space and time for a person to share their story. Give them your full attention and stop yourself from jumping in. Never force someone to share their story if they aren't ready or willing.

  • Ask how you can support a person instead of coming to your own conclusions and solutions. It could be a glass of water, company to sit with, or helping them get the support they need at that moment.

  • Examine your own biases.

Choose to get involved

  •  Like, retweet and share our Stigma ends Here posts on social media, download themedia kit. Join the conversation around overdose prevention, visit the International Overdose Awareness Day website.
  • Educate yourself about substance use disorders and harm reduction
  • Get trained to use Naloxone which can reverse an opiod overdose and save a life. Call the BCHU's Harm reduction program at 519-753-4937 ext. 471. 
  • Help others become more aware by passing on facts and challenge stereotypes. 
  • Know what resources are available for people with substance use disorders. Offer this information to others if asked or when they are ready. 
  • Read the Brantford- Brant Community Drugs Strategy to learn about what is being tdone to reduce the harms associated with drug use in Brant. 

Adapted with permission from a publication produced by the Hamilton Drug Strategy. Distributed by Brant County Health Unit. 

The Stigma Ends Here campaign has been adapted with permission from the Government of British Columbia – Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.