August 31, 2018 - International Overdose Awareness Day

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Ohlhoff's 6-Month Working Men’s Residential Program Director, John Halverson, reflects on why there is a negative stigma surrounding substance use related deaths:

“The stigma that often surrounds a substance related death is the same stigma that was (and to a large extent still is) applied to those with substance use disorders (SUD’s). The origin of the stigma is from a time when people with SUD’s were judged as being morally deficient and lacking will power. The terms used to describe these individuals were similarly judgmental, 'drunkard', 'lush', or 'junkie'. Any of these terms sound familiar? Does a negative persona come to mind?

Unfortunately, despite the advancements in SUD’s research, people with SUD’s still experience moral criticism. Experts understand that a SUD can be thought of as a Bio-Psycho-Social disorder and not a character flaw, but that view is not always shared by those less knowledgeable of SUD’s.

Due to the urgency of the current opioid crisis, we now see addiction in the press and openly discussed by public figures. It is encouraging that there is less of a 'just say no' approach to substance use and more of an acknowledgment that substance use disorders are a mental health condition that can be treated.”

Our thoughts, especially today, are always with everyone who has lost a friend, family member, neighbor, or patient to overdose.

We would also like to thank Facing Addiction with NCADD for mobilizing our community and successfully influencing a digital media company to change an upcoming documentary film title from ‘American Junkie’ to a less stigmatizing and more supportive title.