Substance abuse stigma costs all of us

Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / FotoMaximum

Chatham-Kent continues trying to address the stigma surrounding drug addiction.

The Chatham-Kent Drug Awareness Council will host the 2019 Annual Breakfast event on November 7 at Smitty’s Restaurant in Chatham to educate the public about resources and services available in the community with a focus on preventing and addressing stigma. The drug awareness council hopes to shed light on some of the many challenges faced by people experiencing mental health and substance use issues.

The keynote speaker is Brian Knowler, a mental health advocate and author of “On the Other Side of Broken: One Cop’s Battle with the Demons of PTSD” and “Career Suicide is Overrated.” Other speakers will also share their stories about mental health, substance use, and stigma.

Drug awareness council officials said negative stereotypes, attitudes, or beliefs are among the most significant challenges facing the community, especially around mental health and substance use. They said stigma includes discrimination, prejudice, judging, labelling, isolating, and stereotyping and has serious impacts on the lives of people with mental health and substance use issues, as well as their families and friends.

CK councillor and drug awareness council coordinator, Marjorie Crew, said that substance use knows no social barriers and the cost of these issues in our community is spread to each of us.

“Substance use is so complex and multi-faceted that we need to have a proactive and coordinated response community-wide,” said Crew.

Public health nurse and council board member Jordynne Lindsay said that stigma is the number one reason preventing people from getting the help they need for substance use issues.

“There are many things all of us can do to help. Attending this event and learning about some of the ways we can address stigma is a great first step,” she added.

The event is on November 7 from 7 a.m.-9:30 a.m. at Smitty’s Restaurant at 307 Grand Avenue West in Chatham.

Tickets are $19.99 and can be bought on Eventbrite at www.ckdacannualbreakfast2019.eventbrite.ca.