Public Awareness

Educate and raise awareness about substance use disorder.

Public Awareness educates the public about the disease of Substance Use Disorder and the dangers of prescription opioids and heroin. Awareness alone does not solve the crisis.

Integrated with the five Lines of Operation, the Public Awareness Line of Operation helps S.A.F.E. Project reduce stigma and bias surrounding those in addiction and their families. Public Awareness also provides meaningful advice and a shared community for friends and family members who are coping with a loved one’s substance use disorder, treatment, transition, or recovery. Our awareness efforts include partnering and engaging with grassroots family efforts to stem the opioid epidemic. Stigma towards addiction and ignorance colors our nation’s approach to drugs, effectively blocking opportunities for treatment and change. Our multi-pronged approach includes creating educational programs, media and community outreach, and creating awareness campaigns. Specifically, our focus areas include:

  1. Educating communities about prescription drug and opioids, as well as the safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs.
  2. Creating public education campaigns to help reduce bias and stigma, focusing on substance use disorder as a health concern rather than a moral or criminal issue.
  3. Educating and training journalists to reduce sensationalism in stories surrounding the disease of addiction, and to fairly cover the epidemic regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level.
  4. Leveraging select media, partnerships, and public events to create large-scale opportunities for public awareness.

Changing the Language of Addiction 

Terms that stigmatize addiction can negatively affect the perspective and behavior of perspective patients, clients, scientists and clinicians. Stigma and shame can feel like an insurmountable barrier to treatment for those who need help, as well as their families.

Clinicians especially need to be aware of person-first language and avoid stigmatizing terms. (American Society of Addiction Medicine)

Words Matter One of the simplest ways anyone can help destigmatize substance use disorder is by talking about it in a non-judgemental way.  Not sure what to say?  SAFE Project highly recommends ADDICTIONARY, created by the Recovery Research Institute.

For example:

  • Say  “Person in recovery” instead of “former addict.”
  • Say “People with “substance use disorder” instead of “addict” or “junkie.”

By the Numbers:

  • 44% say opioid addiction indicates a lack of willpower or discipline; 32% say it is caused by a character defect or bad parenting. And less than 1 in 5 Americans are willing to associate closely with someone who is addicted to prescription drugs as a friend, colleague, or neighbor.
  • 43% of Americans now say the use of opioid prescription pain relievers is a serious problem in their community, up from 33% two years ago. Regarding heroin, 37% say it is a serious problem in their community, 25% regard it as moderately serious, and 33% say heroin is not a problem where they live.
  • 57% of Americans have experience dealing with substance misuse ranging from taking a painkiller that wasn’t prescribed to overdosing. 24% say they have an addicted relative, close friend, or that they themselves are addicted to opioids. 40% are or know someone addicted to alcohol or another type of drug. 13% have lost a relative or close friend to opioids.

*All statistics are from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, April 2018 Survey

Public Awareness Programs:

  • Lessons Learned, Share Your Story.
  • PSA campaigns for end of year 2018 and 2019.
  • NOVA/PBS  “Addiction” documentary premieres October 17,2018 , plus upcoming panel and  community conversations.
  • Leveraging emerging media, public events, & partnership opportunities for public awareness.