PA Opioid Stigma Reduction Campaign Reaches 4 Million People

Through Cassie Miller

A year after the start of a campaign to reduce the stigma associated with opioid use disorder (OUD), state officials, addiction researchers and community advocates are expressing joy over to its success.

“For decades, stigma has cast a shadow over people with substance use disorders and their families, and that must change,” said Jen Smith, secretary of the Department of Drug and Drug Programs. alcohol earlier this month. “We are delighted that in the first year of this campaign, attitudes have improved towards drug treatment, harm reduction tactics and the general opinions of people living with this disease. We know there is more work to do and we look forward to continuing this vital work, with these great partners, and expanding the reach of the Life Unites Us campaign.

In the 12 months since the launch of Life Unites Us, the campaign has reached nearly 4 million Pennsylvanians, according to the DDAP.

With testimonials from over 200 people in recovery and their family members, the campaign hosted 12 webinars related to stigma reduction. The webinars attracted over 1,200 participants.

The statewide campaign is funded by a $1.9 million federal grant, according to the department.


80 …the percentage of respondents who viewed the campaign agreed that the opioid epidemic is a serious problem in their community; compared to 61.9% of respondents who did not see the campaign.

39.2 … the percentage of respondents who viewed the campaign agreed that buprenorphine, a drug treatment for TOU, is effective; compared to 25.8% of respondents who did not see the campaign.

35 …of respondents who viewed the campaign agreed that their local government had strong policies to support people with TOU; compared to 17.2% of respondents who did not see the campaign.

60.8 … the percentage of respondents who watched the campaign agreed that their community has programs to help people with TOU; compared to 38.2% of respondents who did not see the campaign.

In the future

With a successful first year under its belt, DDAP has confirmed that the campaign will expand in its second year to address the stigma around polysubstance and stimulant use, which has increased in Pennsylvania and across the country. national in recent years.

Pennsylvania saw a 5% increase in treatment admissions for stimulant use from 2018 to 2020. The department said stimulants are “the most common secondary substance among those admitted to substance abuse treatment programs.” .

“As of 2018, approximately one in four callers to Pennsylvania’s Get Help Now helpline seek treatment for stimulant use,” a department statement said.

“What we’ve seen are significant positive results after just one year of campaigning, and that we’re moving the needle in the right direction to reduce the stigma around substance use disorders. We know that positive changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors to reduce stigma do not happen overnight, by chance or through the work of siled stakeholders. As the campaign progresses, our entire team looks forward to continuing this important life-saving work, engaging with other stakeholders across the state to reduce stigma, providing the necessary resources and, ultimately, saving lives,” Weston Kensinger, director of the Douglas W. Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research, said.

Cassie Miller is a reporter for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.

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