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Video series aims to combat stigmas about addiction

Durham Region Health Department, in partnership with the Durham Region Opioid Task Force, has released a four-part video series intended to encourage residents to learn more about stigma and its impact on substance and opioid addictions.

The video series has been produced to complement the Health Department’s anti-stigma campaign called “People Who Use Drugs are Real People.”

Chris Arnott, a public health nurse, says stigma, which involves judging or stereotyping someone based on their life circumstances, creates barriers and prevents people who use drugs, and their families, from getting the help they need. According to a press release, the videos focus on sharing the realities of opioid and substance use disorders within Durham Region and encourage the community to be more compassionate towards people struggling with substance use disorders.

“People who struggle with substance use disorders are real people deserving of care and compassion,” said Arnott. “Most of us know someone who is struggling or has struggled with substances; it’s important that we support them in getting the help they need to recover.”

Each video features perspectives of individuals within the community including people with lived experience, addiction medicine professionals, Durham Police Chief Paul Martin, and Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter

Carter, who speaks openly about his past struggles with addiction, said beyond the stigma, there is a great deal of shame.

“It plays a significant role in people coming forward with their issues… that is what holds people back sometimes,” Carter told The Oshawa Express earlier this year.

“The goal of this video series was to bring together different members of our community who, in one way or another, have been impacted by opioids and substance use,” Arnott explained. “We invited them to share their experiences, reflect on what is happening in Durham Region, identify areas of improvement and help to ensure we are working together towards a solution. Our hope is that these videos will help to increase compassion and start thoughtful conversations to break down the walls built by stigma.”

To watch the video series or learn more about opioids and substance use disorders, visit