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Wooden Alphabet Letters

Language Guide
Created by people with lived and living substance use experience  

Certain language can be stigmatizing when discussing substance use. Stigma can put up metaphorical walls that keep people away from people and places that might feel unsafe. Feeling a sense of belonging within a community is essential for everyone to access the social connection and support necessary for wellness. Help support safe and non-stigmatizing spaces in Delta.

Note that language evolves, and the list may change.


Stigma is a negative view of others that can cause people to fear seeking help or support.

The stigma associated with substance use exacerbates harm and social isolation.

For stigmatized populations, isolation can result in hidden substance use, or using alone, which is associated with higher death rates. Hidden substance use can lead to difficulties in accessing social support and resources, as well as a lack of support from loved ones. It can also contribute to further isolation, a decline in mental health, and an incorrect understanding of how common these issues are in a community. Ultimately, substance use that goes underreported can result in a lack of action in the community. 

We All Play A Part

Image by Etienne Boulanger

End Stigma with words

Person-first language is powerful


“Person who uses substances”

instead of

“Addict or Abuser”

Use respect & compassion to value people as human beings first

Image by Aarón Blanco Tejedor

End Stigma with Connection

Connect with others in your community

•      Volunteer & invite participation

•      Let people around you know you are there to help

•       Check in with others & offer support

•      Include and connect with all cultures and age groups

•      Ensure youth of all ages form stable and positive connections with safe adults 

Image by Clem Onojeghuo

End Stigma with Influence 

•      Talk about reasons why substance use occurs

•      Talk about media biases and untruths

•      Encourage questions instead of judgments

•      Support policy changes 

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