New video campaign designed to shatter stigma of substance abuse

A new video campaign aims to shatter the stigma surrounding substance abuse.

The four-part series – produced by the Durham Region Health Department, in partnership with the Durham Region Opioid Task Force – is intended to encourage residents to learn more about stigma and its impact on substance and opioid use disorders.

The video series has been produced to complement the Health Department’s anti-stigma campaign entitled, ‘People Who Use Drugs are Real People.’

Stigma, which involves judging or stereotyping someone based on their life circumstances, creates barriers and prevents people who use drugs, and their families, from getting the help they need. The videos focus on sharing the realities of opioid and substance use disorders within Durham Region and encourages the community to be more compassionate towards people struggling with substance use disorders.

“People who struggle with substance use disorders are real people deserving of care and compassion,” said Chris Arnott, a public health nurse with the Health Department.

“Most of us know someone who is struggling or has struggled with substances; it’s important that we support them in getting the help they need to recover.”

Each video features perspectives of individuals within the community including people with lived experience, addiction medicine professionals, members of the Indigenous community, Durham Regional Police Chief Paul Martin, Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter and Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health.

“The goal of this video series was to bring together different members of our community who, in one way or another, have been impacted by opioids and substance use,” Arnott explained.

“We invited them to share their experiences, reflect on what is happening in Durham Region, identify areas of improvement and help to ensure we are working together towards a solution. Our hope is that these videos will help to increase compassion and start thoughtful conversations to break down the walls built by stigma.”

To watch the video series or learn more about opioids and substance use disorders, visit

For more information about the Health Department’s role in addressing substance use disorders, call Durham Health Connection Line at 1-800-841-2729.

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