Reducing substance use stigma in the Canadian health system (infographic)

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Date published: January 2020

Stigma begins with the negative stereotyping of people, creating a separation between “us” and “them”. Those who are stigmatized can be devalued and subjected to discrimination, which is unfair treatment due to one’s identity. This can lead to disadvantage and inequitable social and health outcomes.

Key messages

  1. Substance use stigma is prevalent throughout the health system and contributes to poorer quality of care and negative health outcomes.
  2. Creating a stigma-free health system will require collaborative action and sustained commitment of key players across the health system.
  3. Efforts to reduce substance use stigma within the health system must also acknowledge and address intersecting stigmas, including through initiatives not traditionally labelled as “anti-stigma interventions”.
Figure 1. The dynamic relationships between substance use, stigma and social and health inequities.
Figure 1
Figure 1 - Text description

The figure is composed of 3 elements: “social and health inequities,” “stigma” and “substance use,” which are aligned from left to right respectively. Each element is interconnected to the other by arrows, illustrating the linkages between them.

Evidence-based interventions to address substance use-related stigma in health systems

Social and health inequities


Substance use

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