I was very pleased to speak today to bring awareness to stopping stigma around substance use. My remarks are here:
I’m pleased and proud to be here representing the City of Guelph at the “Stop the Stigma” rally. It’s great to see so many people here – and such a strong presence from the community organizations and service providers who are here to help.
I want to thank the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy, and its Harm Reduction Working Group, for hosting this rally.
The City of Guelph is proud to be part of the Drug Strategy, and proud to provide funding to help them do their important work. And I’m pleased that the Guelph Police Service is also a key participant in the strategy – and I’m glad to be joined by Chief DeRuyter today.
We’re all here today because we want to stop the stigma.
Stigma gets in the way of getting help. It gets in the way of getting healthy. It gets in the way of happiness and success and moving forward in life.
We see that in the area of mental health. We see it when we talk about poverty and homelessness. And we see it in the area of substance use.
We don’t shame people who have high blood pressure, or people who have a heart attack. We don’t say, “Well, they shouldn’t have been eating bacon, they should have been eating tofu!” We simply get them the health care they need, so that they can get better.
So why can’t we do the same thing for people who are suffering from addiction-related pain?
As Mayor, I am standing up today to say: nobody should ever feel ashamed about getting the help they need to get better.
As Mayor, I am Stopping the Stigma today by changing my Twitter and Facebook profile pictures to say “Stop the Stigma.”
A final note: let’s keep this conversation going. If everyone here goes away and talks to their families, their friends, and their co-workers about stopping the stigma around substance use – we will have already started the ball rolling.
The Stop the Stigma rally is a project that has been developed by the WGDS Harm Reduction Working Group. The topic of “stopping stigma” was selected as the focus of the rally because the working group members experience the stigma associated with substance as a key barrier that prevents their clients from receiving the care they need to be well.
This barrier occurs at many levels – systemic, organizational and individual. Reducing and eliminating this stigma will open opportunities for members of our community who struggle with substance use to access appropriate support and care in a timely way.