An update from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), through Globe Newswire, has released information on 2019’s National Addiction Awareness Week.

The Canadian National Addictions Awareness Week takes place from November 25 to December 1. This year, the CCSA will be focusing their attention on stigma, with the theme ‘Stigma Ends With Me.’

Prompting this theme are the facts that substance use disorder is a health condition, not a choice or a moral failing, and the stigma surrounding substance use is one of the biggest barriers for people recovering from substance use disorders, both in seeking care and receiving it.

Removing stigma is a significant initiative of the CCSA, and National Addictions Awareness Week is a part of their mission to address substance use and issues surrounding it in Canada. National Addictions Awareness Week highlights issues and solutions to address ongoing problems related to alcohol and other drugs. It also offers the opportunity to educate Canadians on topics of treatment and recovery, substance use prevention, and solutions for change.

“CCSA is here to shine a spotlight on the issue and empower more Canadians to help reduce the devastating impacts of stigma,” said Rita Notarandrea, CCSA’s CEO. “Ending stigma and breaking down barriers to recovery and wellness or good health are key priorities for CCSA.”

The stigma surrounding substance use can be illustrated through beliefs, attitudes, or behaviours that discriminate against those who use, or have used substances. The stigma is often displayed through derogatory language that shames and deprecates people. Stigmatizing discourse can shape society’s reception of people, as well as how individuals perceive themselves. 

“Many people with lived and living experience with substance use have shared their stories and shown us that, on an individual level, stigmatizing words and actions are harmful. Collectively over time, they have a significant impact on people’s health and well-being,” Notarandrea said.

The CCSA have developed a number of resources, accessible on their website, for the interested parties of Canada to access and share, with the goal of ending the harms caused by stigma. These resources have been designed to facilitate conversation and increase awareness of the stigma surrounding people who use or have used substances, their support networks, and service providers.

Canadians are encouraged to show their support for the campaign online by using the hashtag #StigmaEndsWithMe on social media. Furthermore, the CCSA encourages interested parties to access their resources and share them throughout National Addictions Awareness Week and beyond.