Strategies to Reduce Stigma | Reflection
As leaders in this sector, we all bring our unique perspectives and biases. To create a more supportive work environment, it’s essential that we reflect on these biases and separate what is helpful from what is harmful. By doing so, we can avoid perpetuating stigma, which may lead to discrimination and hinder team members from seeking support for problematic substance use or mental health concerns. Taking a moment to examine our views on substance use is crucial before we embark on reducing stigma in our worksite. Here are some guiding questions to help with self-reflection:
When the topic of substance use comes up, what emotions arise within you? Are you feeling angry, sad, concerned, or something else? What has influenced these responses?
Our emotional responses to substance use can shape our thoughts and perspectives on the matter. However, reacting negatively can inadvertently stigmatize our team members. Understanding the roots of our emotions can help us regulate them when addressing this issue on our site.
Do you perceive addiction as a health issue or a criminal issue?
Many of us were raised to view drug use as a criminal act, given that many substances were outlawed before decriminalization efforts. Nevertheless, it’s vital to recognize that substance use disorder is legally considered both a physical and mental disability, often requiring specialized health care support. When our team members need help, viewing substance use as a health condition to be treated, rather than a crime to be punished, is essential.
Have you personally experienced problematic substance use, either firsthand or through someone else? Do you grasp the challenges associated with addiction, or would you benefit from learning more?
While some of us may have some understanding of the topic, others may lack the necessary knowledge. Misconceptions and judgments often stem from this lack of understanding. Taking the time to reflect on our knowledge level can guide us in seeking further education before addressing this critical issue.
By engaging in this thoughtful self-reflection, we can foster a more empathetic and informed approach to addressing substance use concerns in our workplace. Embracing open dialogue and continuous learning will lead us towards a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone.