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A group of UBC Okanagan nursing students believes the stigma associated with addiction creates barriers and causes people to isolate themselves.
They asked staff and students Tuesday to sign a pledge to help stop stigma.
“We recognize that using words, like junkie or addict, increases stigma and keeps people isolated in the community,” fourth-year nursing student Jenna Hunter said. “It’s a medical condition not a moral failing.”
Hunter said their efforts are aimed at creating awareness.
“What we want to tell everyone is to refer to the person first,” Hunter said. “So we say, ‘this is a person who uses substances, this is a substance use disorder or substance use issue.’”
From Jan. 2007 to Aug. 2017, 58 per cent of people who died of a drug overdose in B.C. did so in a private residence, according to statistics released by the B.C. Coroners Service.
The nurses believe stigma associated with substance use causes fear of losing employment, housing, friendship or family and leads to drug use in secret.
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