COMPASSION provides ASAP of Anderson with a foundation for inclusive, empathetic practices to destigmatize substance use disorder.

The concept of stigma describes the powerful, negative perceptions commonly associated with substance use and dependence. Stigma is rarely based on facts but rather on assumptions, preconceptions, and generalizations. Stigma results in prejudice, avoidance, rejection, and discrimination against people who have a socially undesirable trait or engage in culturally marginalized behaviors, such as drug use (Link, 2001).

For people with substance use disorders, stigma disproportionately influences health outcomes and mental well-being. The fear of being judged or discriminated against can prevent people with substance use disorders from getting the help they need. It can also prevent caregivers in the position to help from providing needed services, including medical care.

Let’s shift the conversation from stigma to compassion. Everyone deserves access to the help and resources necessary to overcome substance use disorder.

Step 1: Educate Yourself and Others

Substance misuse is not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Knowing the facts about substance use disorder can help you educate others and reject stigmatizing stereotypes.

Step 2: Focus on the Person, Not the Condition

Anyone can change attitudes and champion compassion when they view individuals with substance use disorder as people first. Hearing personal stories, understanding the importance of language, and practicing self-care are paths to destigmatizing substance use disorder.

Step 3: Join Advocacy Efforts

ASAP of Anderson advocates for legislation and policy that can enhance the lives of all Tennesseans. By lending your support, you can show elected officials that substance use prevention is important to you.

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