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Seeing People First

Toronto, Ontario

Questioning our assumptions about drugs, and our stigma towards people who use drugs, is explored by Stephanie in this video.

Stephanie in a video interview

See Transcript

As long as humans have been on the earth there have been substances that we have used to either alter our consciousness, or to relieve pain, or to wake us up, or to make us tired. Like, we have been utilizing herbs and plants and different substances since we’ve been here so I don’t know how this is any different, right? Like we don’t think about caffeine and nicotine and Tylenol and all of those things. And it’s interesting to think about, like, the hierarchy that we’ve created with different substances. So even within the drug using community there are people that are like, “Well I do this thing but at least I don’t do that thing.” Or even the route of administration. Like, “Well I smoke but at least I don’t put it in my body in this way,” right?
When we talk about drugs and we talk about people that use drugs, I think that there’s an automatic stigma associated with those people. And I think a lot of times, especially for people that are growing up in smaller rural communities like I did, the idea of a person that used drugs was, it was like that person is a bad person and they do bad things.
Everybody is deserving of, like, dignity and respect and love and care. And being a person that uses drugs doesn’t make you a bad person. So I think spending a little bit more time concentrating on the person instead of what they’re doing. I think that’s one of the main things I’d like, maybe people that don’t understand harm reduction, to know about. And like try to understand a little bit better.