Pledge to End Substance Use Stigma

July 16, 2020. Article by: Government of B.C.

A devastating number of people are losing their lives each month to overdose in B.C. There are ways to stay safer if you or someone you know uses substances. This includes finding support when you need it.

It’s important to feel safe to reach out for help. Everyone can support this by considering the impact that stigma has on people who use substances.

People are having more conversations about stigma and are more aware than ever before. However, stigma is still a reality experienced by people who use drugs. Discrimination can contribute to feelings of shame, blame, or hopelessness that make it harder for people to reach out for support and treatment.

When someone who uses substances receives respect and understanding from others, they may be more likely to take steps to stay safer or reach out for help. For example, they may feel more comfortable to tell a friend about their substance use, and not use alone and in safe spaces, which can decrease the risk of overdose.

More and more, people are learning about substance use and addiction. And as people gain more knowledge and insight, stigma can decrease. The good news is – we can end stigma, together.

How you can make a difference

There are small things you can do in your daily life.

One is to consider the language used when speaking about substance use. Words can shape attitudes towards addiction and people who use substances. At times, words or phrases may not be respectful, accurate, or inclusive.

Using person-first and recovery-oriented language when referring to a person who uses substances treats them in a caring and considerate way. This includes avoiding the use of ‘slang’ words and focusing on language that promotes recovery. Find out more.

Join people across B.C. in taking the pledge to end the harm caused by using stigmatizing language.


The words we choose to use make an impact. Words matter.

Where to find help

If you or someone you know uses drugs, visit an overdose prevention or supervised consumption site near you, get a free Naloxone kit and use with a buddy. Use the Lifeguard app if you are alone. 

If you suspect an overdose, call 9-1-1 right away.