Canucks Alumni Talk About Stigma Around Addiction

2022-02-04. Article by: Government of B.C.

Drug addiction is not a choice, it’s a complex health condition. But harmful stigma around addiction still exists.

Vancouver Canucks alumni, Chris Higgins and Geoff Courtnall, reflect on the ways stigma impacts people experiencing addiction and their families – like causing people to feel disconnected and alone.

Stigma can create feelings of shame or blame. And makes it harder to reach out for help. People who use drugs or have a substance use disorder may feel afraid of being judged by others or hesitate to seek support for fear of discrimination.

It can contribute to a higher risk of both fatal and non-fatal overdose for people who use drugs, because they may hide their drug use or use drugs alone.

“There’s so many ways we think about drug addiction that are just plain wrong.” – Geoff Courtnall





It is so important that people living with addiction and their families receive kindness and compassion from the people in their lives. They deserve to feel heard, seen and valued.

It’s never too late to begin to look at things in a different way. Learning about addiction, listening to someone’s story, and using respectful language can all help to stop the stigma. Every person has a part they can play.

If you know someone who may need support, reaching out can make all the difference. It shows you care and can help them take the next step in seeking support.

“When people have other health conditions, we show up, we help out. Addiction is no different.” – Chris Higgins




Make the connection. Have the conversation. Stop the stigma.