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Coming Soon: Reducing Stigma, Self-stigma, and Shame


Opioid use disorder (OUD) is highly stigmatized. Those with a substance use disorder (SUD) such as OUD in rural communities are less likely to have access to care, and fear of being stigmatized adds another barrier. Our Technical Assistance Center has noted that OUD stigma is a growing concern in the Appalachian region. Research demonstrates that stigmatizing beliefs around SUD can be reduced by bringing people into contact with a person who has the stigmatized condition and educating them about effective treatments and the potential for recovery.

This campaign applies the practices of education and contact through a combination of art and workshops. Volunteers in rural communities are sharing their experiences of OUD stigma and having their portraits painted. This art will be shared and incorporated into workshops, inspiring discussion and humanizing the opioid crisis. As community members engage in conversations about stigma, with art as a starting point, they can share knowledge and come away with ideas for increasing local access to treatment.

Workshop and community discussion

Workshops in rural communities will be a creative opportunity to learn, discuss, and reflect on how to reduce stigma, biases, and negative perceptions. They will build on the messages conveyed in the portraits to:

  1. Develop a connection with the art that will humanize people involved in the opioid crisis
  2. Build a word bank to provide alternative and non-stigmatizing language
  3. Foster relationships among workshop participants that can lead to ongoing learning and resource sharing in efforts to reduce stigma

Workshops are being developed in a flexible manner that will allow them to focus on community- or provider-based workgroups.

Contact us

Our Technical Assistance Center is available to anyone interested in implementing or learning more about these workshops.