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For people with a substance use disorder, stigma is a major barrier to recovery. When someone discloses their struggles with substance use, they risk being stigmatized by their families, friends, and even health care providers. Some treatment strategies, including harm reduction, are also stigmatized, making it difficult for people to access resources. Harm reduction is a set of strategies based on the core value of respect for the rights of people who use drugs. The goal of harm reduction is to help people stay safe while using substances and to connect them with medical professionals who offer evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Because harm reduction strategies do not require abstinence from substance use, they are often misunderstood as enabling drug use.
This guide is meant to help people understand the role of stigma in preventing people from accessing recovery resources. It provides an overview of harm reduction strategies and explains the research on best practices for supporting people with substance use disorders to use substances more safely, and to help them consider options for treatment and recovery. The guide is in graphic novel format, and follows Erin, Hilary and Leo the Chihuahua as they travel to beautiful destinations in Utah and talk about these topics.
Utah State University
harm reduction, stigma, comic, opioid use disorder
Fanning Madden, Erin; Disch, Hilary; and Zaman, Katie, "How Can We Help? A Guide to Substance Use Disorders, Stigma, and Harm Reduction" (2022). Telling Stories to Reduce Stigma: Comics and Harm Reduction. 3.
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