PA to launch program to battle stigma of opiod use

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Pennsylvania will become the first state to launch a program to battle the stigma of opioid use.

The Covid-19 pandemic has worked to increase the opioid epidemic across Pennsylvania, says Jen Smith who heads the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. Their new program, Life Unites Us, will work to reduce the stigma resulting from Covid isolation.

Their new program, Life Unites Us, will work to reduce the stigma resulting from Covid isolation.

Jen Smith who heads the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs says program can help people who sufferz "Life Unites Us is a behavioral change campaign designed using evidence-based strategies, proven to effectively reeduce stigma."

That stigma is displayed ever time a user is called a junkie or a criminal, says Penn State addiction researcher Westin Kensinger.

"It's done in the false notion that substance abuse disorder is a moral failing and not a treatable disease."

Isolation brought on by the Caronavirus pandemic is expected to increase the number of people suffering from opioid use across Pennsylvania this year.

In part, the campaign will share the stories of many of Pennsylvania's 300,000 opioid users in recovery to fight the stigma of abuse. Joe Smyser heads, The Public Good Project non-profit and he said "We already have enough stories where we could run a news story every single day for two months and that's before the campaign is even launched."

The campaign will also work to educate policy makers and medical workers, and advocate for strategies to fight stigma.

Life Unites Us will operate through the state Department of Drug and Alcohol programs.