October 25, 2017 – Destigmatizing
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Anchor lead: Should the US follow the lead of other countries in destigmatizing drug use? Elizabeth Tracey reports
Portugal is being put forward as a model for decreasing opioid addiction and overdose death, where destigmatization is the linchpin along with community health worker outreach to those who use drugs. Yet Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, says such a strategy may not help.
Strain: Stigma and drug use is a complicated concept. Because we want to destigmatize getting into treatment for drug use, but we don’t want to destigmatize drug use itself. If we do that we run the risk of more young adults using drugs because it’s been destigmatized. So we need to sort of thread that needle between having drug use be something we don’t want people to do but if you do run into a problem then we welcome you coming into treatment and getting that addressed. :30
Strain says using community health workers to identify those who use drugs and bring them into treatment could help stem the tide of use and overdose deaths while not endorsing use. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.