via the Canadian Liver Foundation
Today’s issue is a complicated one, but it’s one we need to talk about more often. And that’s the relationship between liver disease, stigma, and drug use.
Why is this important? A couple of reasons:
There are more than 100 liver diseases, and very few of them are actually caused by drug or alcohol use. Despite this, the stigma around using drugs and alcohol is felt by almost everybody who has been diagnosed with a liver disease. We often hear from the community that many people feel the need to add “. . . but I barely drink and I don’t use drugs!” to the end of their sentence every time they tell people they have a liver disease. They are trying to avoid the pervasive shame and stigma.
Secondly, and here’s the part we don’t talk about as much: some liver diseases ARE connected to drug and alcohol use. But because drug use and alcohol abuse are stigmatized activities in our society, people experiencing these things often find disclosure difficult. When they do tell people, they’re often treated differently.
People who use drugs often identify stigma as a serious barrier to their accessing treatment, prevention, and care in our healthcare system. This is not okay.
Looking at these points, it’s clear to see that the stigma around drug and alcohol use hurts everybody in our community, including people who drink and/or use drugs and people who don’t.
Today’s action is simple: Please sign the letter calling for an anti-stigma policy and more equitable healthcare systems for people who inject drugs in Canada. Please add your name and send a clear message to your local MP that you will stand up against stigma in all its forms.
Learn more about the Canadian Liver Foundation