Recent history has shown that nearly everyone, from all aspects of society, is affected by substance abuse – commonly referred to as addiction. Whether it’s family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, congregation members, or old schoolmates, we are all surrounded by addiction affliction, and there’s probably a lot more people abusing substances around us than we truly know.
If we truly want to break the cycle, heal those in need, heal communities including the reduction of crime, save lives, and work toward the ultimate goal of “Winning the War on Drugs” it starts with the realization that there is no set standard of what an addict looks like. An addicts’ face, body and style of dress often look just like our own reflection.
With empathetic hearts and awareness of the importance to recognize, learn and teach others about the dangers of stigma, the Office of Arkansas Drug Director and the Department of Human Services have launched the “Stop Stigma” Campaign with an early pledge from Darynne Dahlem, Miss Arkansas 2019. The campaign mission is to Stop Stigma! and change attitudes in Arkansas by securing the commitment of changing our words. By signing the campaign pledge, you will increase awareness in your community and utilize the information and resources available.
The stigma of drug use keeps people from seeking treatment. Words like “junkie,” “addict,” and “druggie” can hurt, damaging self-image and standing in the way of recovery. Addiction is not a choice. It is a chronic disease similar to diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Get the facts and embrace a community that needs our support.
Some examples of Stigma:
♦ Hurtful words and labels, including junkie, loser, thief, druggie, abuser and addict.
♦ Comments such as “Once a junkie, always a junkie” or “You’re not fit to be a parent.”
♦ Perceptions, including: (a) Addiction is a personal choice (when in fact it is a disease). (b) Addiction is a sign of human weakness or lack of morals or willpower. (c) Addiction is the result of poor parenting.
♦ People in recovery with children have experienced other parents unwilling to let their children play at their schoolmate’s homes.
♦ Some communities view addiction as a crime, an act that must be penalized, versus a disease that needs treatment.
What Can We Do?
It is important to understand that opioid addiction is a treatable disease. On a personal level, we can look honestly at ourselves for signs of our own stigmas – negative, biased feelings, words or behaviors. We can make the effort to look at addiction from a different and hopefully more positive perspective.
We are all affected by the current epidemic of opioid addiction. Many people know someone who struggles with addiction or who is in treatment or recovery.
♦ We can all be part of the solution.
♦ We can take a stand against stigma.
♦ We can support treatment opportunities.
♦ We can encourage people in recovery.
♦ Most importantly, we can talk about addiction amongst our friends and family members to hopefully address the misperceptions about addiction, treatment options and long-term recovery.
♦ Each of us can commit to not using hurtful or damaging words about those who face addiction.
This Is What We Will Provide Your Organization
♦ A poster with the Stop Stigma pledge;
♦ Buttons for taking the pledge;
♦ Stop Stigma mirror cards;
♦ Copy of this language to change your words.
All That We Ask Is:
♦ Your organization sign the Stop Stigma poster;
♦ Place the poster in your business;
♦ Send us a photo of the poster being signed at StopStigma@dhs.arkansas.gov
Contact us to receive more information and learn how you can get involved at StopStigma@dhs.arkansas.gov or 501-683-5908.
Need Help? Call 1-844-763-0198