Play 1: Remove the stigma

Addiction is a disease. Educating the public, health care professionals, health care systems and plans, community organizations and law enforcement about that reality – and, as a result, about the need for prevention, detection and treatment with a comprehensive team approach – may be the most important component of any program to stem the tide of opioid use disorders.

Efforts aligned with this play will seek to change the culture of interaction with those who have substance use disorders. The specific components include educational programs, small group discussions, seminars and training in specific approaches, as well as language that professionals (police, health care providers, etc.) should avoid.

Example: The Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel has published a report on its initiative to deal with the stigma problem. It includes recommendations for program content.

Goals and Objectives
The goal of this play is to reduce the effect of stigma in interactions between individuals with substance use disorders and the professionals with whom they come into contact, as well as the effect of behaviors related to self-stigma. Creating non-judgmental interaction patterns can increase the probability of recovery and reduce the likelihood of continued disorders.

Theory of Change
If the environment of interaction by professionals (police, health care providers, etc.) can become more nondiscriminatory and non-judgmental, there is a higher probability that the road to recovery will be shorter and more likely to result in a positive outcome.