Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Make a Change to Help People with Substance Use Disorders During National Addictions Awareness Week

Ottawa, November 20, 2020 — Changes in attitude, behaviour and culture are a result of continuous efforts and actions taken by all individuals. For National Addictions Awareness Week 2020 (NAAW 2020), which runs from November 22–28, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) is encouraging Canadians to make positive changes when dealing with people who use or have used substances. CCSA has created the tools to help make that happen.

Change Begins with Me builds on the NAAW 2019 campaign, Stigma Ends with Me. This year, CCSA wants to present Canadians with ways to reassess the way they think about substance use in Canada and people who use or have used drugs.

“The reality is that many experiencing the harms of substance use may not feel safe seeking help because of the judgment and stigma associated with substance use and addiction in our society and our health systems. As a result, many wait years before they do. Our neighbour, friend, colleague or family member may want help. We may not even realize that someone we know is struggling,” explains CCSA CEO Rita Notarandrea. “However, we have the opportunity to open the door. We have the opportunity to make a positive change in our own environments — big or small — to help those experiencing the harms of substance use so that they feel that they are supported and can seek and receive the care they need and deserve in a non-judgmental way — so that they can take a step towards wellness.”

To ensure people stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s NAAW campaign will be done through social media. Canadians can show their support for the campaign by using the hashtags #ChangeBeginsWithMe and #NAAW. There are two campaigns to bring awareness about substance use and addiction to Canadians. Choose either to Be an Ambassador for Change or to Share the Facts.

Being an Ambassador for Change encourages people to take real action to improve the lives of people experiencing the harms of substance use. These actions will bring about the changes we want to see in our society in attitudes and behaviours towards substance use.

Every day during NAAW 2020, CCSA will Share the Facts on a different topic related to substance use. We will provide Canadians the evidence-informed information they want and can rely on.

Join the campaign. Interested groups and individuals can spread the message by using NAAW 2020 social media posts and graphics to create their own campaigns. The resources are available to view and download now. Please share them throughout NAAW and beyond. Ongoing individual and collective efforts are needed to facilitate discussion on substance use and stigma in Canada.

“We hope that this campaign goes beyond one week and becomes part of the dialogue that we all need to have about people who use substances, so that safe spaces are there for everyone and everyone has a greater chance of leading healthier lives,” says Notarandrea.

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