Combating stigma

Stigma can be one of the primary barriers to overcoming substance use disorder, preventing people from seeking the treatment and support needed to overcome the disease. Learn more about stigma around substance use disorder and ways to combat it.

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*Music Begins*

[Video: IU Grand Challenge Responding to the Addictions Crisis logo appears]

Ryan Russel Speaks in Voiceover: “I had, had nothing in my life grab me like opiates. Addiction crosses every”

[Video: Ryan and Shawna Russel sitting in church pews speaking to camera corresponding to voiceover.]

[Video: B-roll of Shawna, Ryan, and Reverend Charlo Burrell in a meeting with other group members. Ryan and Shawna sitting in church pews speaking to camera corresponding to voiceover. Close-up b-roll of Charlo.]

Ryan Russel Speaks in Voiceover: “Addiction crosses every socio-economic, racial class, ethnic line that you could ever imagine. No matter where you are in life or who you are in life, whatever it may be could grab you before you know it.”

Jessica Hawn Speaks in voiceover: “I struggled with a little bit of postpartum depression when my daughter was born. I was put on nerve pills. it didn't take very long and I was taking them more than what I was supposed to and then eventually stronger pain pills, stronger pain pills, which led to heroin. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, okay I'm gonna ruin the rest of my life today.”

[Video: Jessica sitting in home speaking to camera corresponding to voiceover. B-roll of Jessica doing dishes. Jessica sitting in home speaking to camera corresponding to voiceover. B-roll of Jessica looking out window then looks into camera.]

Josh Graves Speaks in Voiceover: “It hurts when you know what you've been through and people still call you worthless. You're just a junkie, you're better off dead. I know that I've done a lot of bad things, but it also kept me away from wanting to try to better myself.”

[Video: B-roll of Josh driving, walking into Safe Haven Recovery Management Center. Josh talking to camera corresponding to voice over. B-roll of Josh in his office on his computer at Safe Haven.]

Brea Perry Speaks in Voiceover: “Stigma is defined as a deeply discrediting attribute. And the process of stigmatization is a social one where people who have a particular condition are devalued. Stigma is a major barrier to treatment seeking there's the shame and the secrecy which causes people to not seek treatment when they need it.”

[Video: Brea speaking to camera corresponding to voiceover. B-roll of Josh meeting with someone at Safe Haven.]

Reverend Charlo Burrell Speaks in Voiceover: “I've been sober since May the 15th of 1998. I'm a licensed addiction counselor also. Society labels alcoholics or addicts as these voodoo types of people it's the stigma that goes along with it. When I became educated about it, it took away from me that I was a failure. It's not one person, not one, that I can meet that I don't believe that can have a chance.”

[Video: B-roll of Charlo in his office at the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. B-roll of Charlo with others in a meeting in the church. Charlo sitting in church pews talking to camera corresponding to voiceover. B-roll of group members meeting in church.]

[Video: Indiana University logo fades in and then fades to black]

*Music ends*

Reducing stigma through language

What we say matters. Below are a few examples of stigma reducing language. Examples of changing language include using person with substance use disorder instead of addict, druggie, junkie and abuser; disease instead of drug habit; person living with recovery instead of ex-addict; had a setback instead of relapsed; maintained recovery instead of stayed clean and positive drug screen instead of dirty drug screen.

Know the Facts

The State of Indiana's Next Level Recovery initiative is battling against stigma with the creation of its Know the Facts website. The website serves as a resource to reduce stigma associated with substance use disorder, provides both tools to build awareness and details on how individuals and employers can get involved, and includes information on the state's work to combat the addiction crisis. 

Learn more