Stigma reduction conference looks to inform and change the community

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Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace on one’s reputation, and can affect people suffering from drug abuse disorder to people of color. A conference in Bridgeport, sponsored by The Harrison County Family Resource Network, is striving to educate the community about reducing stigmas.

Elizabeth Shahan is the executive director of the Harrison County Family Resource Network. “What we found in our research of the state is that when we try to move folks from substance use disorder, people who are suffering from substance use disorder, into treatment, they’re failing to access treatment or they don’t want to go to treatment mostly because of our stigmas,” said Shahan.

They way we talk about, view, and address people all contribute to our personal stigmas. The consequences of these stigma’s not only affect the victims, but can further cause a divide a community.

 “It’s not just with substance use disorder but in general, people then become disengaged from their community or disconnected, and that’s a risk factor for substance use disorder, it’s also a risk factor for drug use and drug activity in the communities,” said Shahan.

Workshops throughout the day focused on marginalized groups, and how attendees can spot and reduce stigmas these groups face.

“I attended this conference to learn about anti-stigma. I have learned that there are a lot of people that care about this area. There are a lot of people that want to learn more about it.”

Marrone also shared stories of people in recovery with the conference in a poster project, one way she helps to reduce stigmas.

“I have a poster project that is called recovery comes first, to erase some stigma in regards to people that have addiction, that have substance use disorder,” said Rhonda Marrone, one of the conferences’ attendees.

“We’re so good at it in West Virginia believe it or not, we do a really great job when it comes to that fellow West Virginian [that] is in need. So the ideal end game is that people are well and that they’re connected to one another and that we talk about issues that we experience with compassion,” said Shahan.

For more information on the types and consequences for stigmas visit, https://stigmafreewv.org/

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