Harm Reduction Learning Institute
DC Health

Destigmatization of Drug Use

Stigma surrounds a variety of medical and behavioral health conditions, including HIV, mental health disorders, and substance use. The stigma around substance use disorder (SUD) is particularly widespread. Despite the scientific community’s consensus that SUD is a complex brain disorder with behavioral components, the public and even many in healthcare and the justice system continue to view this condition as a result of moral weakness and flawed character. This affects the quality of care, access to services, and social support that people who use drugs receive, which all have a significant impact on drug user health.

This workshop explores the impact of stigma on people who have been diagnosed with SUD and those who are not clinically diagnosed but display symptoms. Faculty will also examine the relationship between stigma and systemic racism, as well as racism’s compounding effect on access to healthcare services for people who use drugs. Faculty will provide strategies for challenging stigma and misconceptions about SUD.

Learning Objectives
At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe stigma and the impact it has on people who use drugs.
  • Identify how trauma, racial injustice, and historical social constructs have affected communities.
  • Describe ways to respond to drug-use stigma in the workplace and society.

Mark Robinson, Regional Syringe Service Program Manager for Family and Medical Counseling Service, Inc.

Launch Date

May 16, 2023

Expiration Date

Activity Type


No credit is offered for this training.


There is no cost for this training.

Universal Activity Number