The following strategies will help you identify what you and your organization can do to reduce drug-related stigma and discrimination.


What you can do

Explore your own values and beliefs about substance use and how they may impact how you work with people who consume alcohol/other drugs:

  • Focus on building respectful and trusting relationships with clients.
  • Use neutral, non-judgemental language.
  • Advocate on behalf of clients to ensure they get the services and resources that they are entitled to.
  • Challenge drug-related stigma and discrimination when you see it.
  • Advocate for systemic change – health, housing, employment sectors, etc.
  • Participate in networks advocating for evidence-based drug policy.


What your organization can do

Ensure your organization complies with provincial policy and legislation that protects people from discrimination and requires a “duty to accommodate.”

  • Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health and addictions
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities 
  • Involve people who consume alcohol/other drugs in developing, implementing and evaluating policies and programs.
  • Involve people who consume alcohol/other drugs on your Board of Directors, staff hiring committees, etc.
  • Develop harm reduction and/or human rights policies for your organization.
  • Create a welcoming, non-judgemental environment.
  • Hire peer workers.
  • Offer low-threshold services, specifically for people who consume alcohol/other drugs.
  • Ensure your intake and assessment forms do not use stigmatizing language or ask for information that is not relevant to the service being provided.
  • Ensure staff and volunteers receive anti-stigma training.
  • Add discussions about stigma and discrimination as a standing item to team meetings.
  • Create a staff group to identify and address service barriers and challenges.