What is stigma?
Stigma is any attitude, belief or behaviour that discriminates against people.
Most of us encounter stigma in our daily lives. We can also contribute to stigma against others without meaning to. We reinforce stigma with the words we use, how we treat others and how we see ourselves. People who use substances experience stigma in the Yukon.
There are different types of stigma
The negative attitudes, including internalized shame that people who use drugs have about themselves.
Members of a society disapprove of, or discriminate against, a person or group because they're different from the norm. Some examples of differences are a person's use of drugs or their race.
Laws, policies and practices unfairly treat people who have lived and living experience.
Why stop stigma?
A significant barrier for Yukoners who use substances is stigma. It can prevent them from accessing services and getting help.
Stigma isolates and separates people who use substances or have substance use disorders. Stigma can make a person feel like their life does not matter. Each Yukoner can take small steps to make a big difference for people who use substances.
Reducing stigma can:
- decrease the isolation families feel when they have a loved one experiencing addiction;
- improve the quality of services offered in the territory;
- encourage Yukoners experiencing addiction to seek help; and
- help people be more productive and involved in their community.
Small steps. Big results.
Take action and find resources
Start with understanding
Everyone has a story. Each Yukoner has something that they’re carrying with them. Some of us carry traumas. Some people use substance to help them deal with their traumas. You do not need to know why a person uses drugs. Treat them with compassion. It can help them and their family members.
When you show compassion to a person who uses drugs it does not mean that you support drug use.
Compassion can start with small actions.
Use your words
Words to avoid: Addict, junkie, drug habit, drug abuse, drug abuser, substance abuse, clean drug test, dirty drug test, getting clean
Words to use instead: a person who uses drugs, a person with a drug addiction, a person experiencing a drug or alcohol problem, a person who’s currently using substances, a person recovering from a drug addiction, a person in recovery
Get workplace training
When your workplace prioritizes a compassionate approach towards people who use substances it helps reduce stigma. This may benefit:
- employees who use substances;
- the family members of people who use substances; and
- your clients and customers.
Taking a small amount of time for these discussions can have a big impact on someone – it may save their life.
- Get a Naloxone kit and training on how to use it.
- Learn how to facilitate conversations and increase awareness of stigma.
Learn about substance use
There are many myths and misconceptions about substance use. Some people mistakenly believe that addiction is a choice. Addiction is complex and people develop addictions because of many interconnected reasons including:
- events in life, especially trauma and chronic stress;
- environmental factors;
- mental wellbeing (including emotions, thoughts, feelings and mental illness); and
- genetics and biology.
- Find support in the Yukon.
- Find Canada-wide supports.
- How to talk to a family member or friend about their drug or alcohol use
Spread the word