Over the past few months, we teamed up with LifeLabs and Toward the Heart to develop a campaign that sheds light on the impact that stigma has on people who use substances, and to really drive home one message: words matter.

People who use substances face stigma on a daily basis, and that stigma has dire consequences for their health. It manifests in different ways: many are turned away form hospitals and denied the care they need because of their history with addiction; they’re discriminated against when trying to access housing, work, or social services; they’re labeled as “junkies” and not treated as another human being; and at the bottom of it all, people are dying because of stigma. Stigma is so powerful that even in the context of an overdose crisis with a highly toxic supply, people are using alone and in unsafe ways which is leading to deaths across our country.

But in the midst of one of the worst public health emergencies we’ve faced in recent memory, there’s still hope. By making a series of videos and downloadable resources with our partners, our goal has been to illustrate how we can all eliminate stigma by changing the way we speak. The overdose crisis and stigma are systemic issues, but you can make a difference on an individual level too. Change starts with an individual.

Social change on this level is inherently slow, but we know we’re making a difference. Over 550,000 people across BC were reached through LifeLab’s patient service centres in just the first month, and we expanded its reach beyond BC through social media. It even made it all the way to Scotland!

We’re so thankful for the support of our incredible partners, LifeLabs and Toward the Heart. Their leadership, support, and commitment to collaboration made this project possible. Just because the campaign has officially come to an end, doesn’t mean this work is over. As part of our Reducing Harms priority, we’re committed to supporting solutions to the overdose crisis, eliminating stigma, and lifting up people with lived experience as experts. We hope you’ll join us in this work by sharing these videos and resources with your friends and family, and leading brave conversations to eliminate stigma in your community.

Stay tuned with what our reducing harms priority will bring in 2020 by signing up for our monthly newsletter, and following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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See our work in action!