Strategies to Reduce Stigma
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.