Pennsylvania urges end of addiction stigma

Pennsylvania urges end of addiction stigma

Pennsylvania government officials are calling for an end to addiction stigma.

For people who struggle with addiction, December often is a challenging month. This year, the struggle is expected to be worse, increasing the risk of relapse because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic is occurring, many Pennsylvanians continue to struggle with the disease of addiction,” said Ray Barishansky, Health Preparedness and Community Protection and Opioid Command Center Incident Commander deputy secretary. “We know that a public health pandemic at the same time as the opioid epidemic has made for a challenging year for many. It is up to all of us to come alongside those who are struggling with the disease of addiction and to offer them our support. Treatment works, and recovery is possible.”

The state’s drug and alcohol treatment providers are open and there is no shame in asking for help, Jennifer Smith, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs secretary, said.

The department launched Life Unites Us, an anti-stigma campaign, in September. The campaign uses social media platforms to share stories of people and their family members battling substance use disorder.

It also offers community-based organizations focused on substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery with webinars that provide tools and information on effectively reducing stigma.