SAFE Speakers: Guidelines and Values
Review our SAFE Speaker guidelines to make sure your presentation shares important information about the science of addiction and does not use stigmatizing language.
We want to make sure your presentation is the best it can be. In the next piece of our training, we will ask you to review our SAFE Speaker guidelines to make sure your presentation shares important information about the science of addiction and does not use stigmatizing language. We also worked with the John Hopkins Medical Center Stigma Lab to identify ways to share elements your story in ways that ensure people hear your message.
SAFE Speaking Guidelines
Introduce yourself and SAFE. First impressions are important! When preparing your presentation, we have some basic points about SAFE we need you to identify up front.
- “Hi, my name is [Name] and I am a SAFE Speaker from SAFE Project.
- SAFE stands for Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic
- SAFE Project is a national nonprofit, but we work closely with communities to provide public awareness and prevention programming.
- I’m here to talk about my experience…” and continue into your story.
Tell your story. Tell the audience how you were personally touched by addiction.
- We use “Person First Language” when talking about substance use disorder. That means someone’s condition, illness, or behavior is “only one aspect of who the person is, not the defining characteristic.” Simply put, that means we refer to the person first before any words describing their condition or behavior.
Incorporate the science of addiction into your presentation.
- Addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failure. Drugs change the structure of the brain and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to harmful behaviors. They can also create and spark triggers that bring on drug cravings.
- Check out these short videos for some ways to incorporate science into your presentation.
Close your presentation by directing the audience to share their story with SAFE Project.
- Every presentation should leave the audience with a call to action, something they can do in reaction to the important story you have just shared. This call to action may be unique to your presentation depending on the story you tell. For example, maybe you want to call for people to put naloxone in their first aid kids, making it more likely that they will have it on hand when needed. But your call to action should also include an invitation for audience members to check out SAFE Project and share their own story. You can ask audience members to visit safeproject.us, or follow us on social media.
SAFE Core Beliefs
- Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.
- Medication Assisted Treatment is an evidenced-based treatment approach that is often needed to successfully maintain long-term recovery. MAT saves lives—they help to stabilize individuals, allowing treatment of their medical, psychological, and other problems so they can contribute effectively as members of families and of society.
- Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is a safe and effective medication that can reverse an overdose from prescription painkillers or heroin and is a key tool in the fight to stop the addiction fatality epidemic.
- “Just Say No” does not work. We encourage healthy choices, and do not scare people into not using drugs.
- Marijuana should be avoided by anyone under the age of 25 unless taken under the direction of a medical doctor, and only then in select circumstances. The brain doesn’t stop developing until age 25, and there is considerable evidence that marijuana alters the development your brain, possibly permanently. These changes can have lasting effects and increase risk of substance use disorder.
- Patients and doctors partner to decide what medications are right for their pain, and some patients will need prescription opioids to manage their pain.
- Treatment is effective, but can take many forms. Whether it is church, counseling, harm reduction, self help meetings, or inpatient treatment, it must be based on what works for the person seeking treatment, not what others think or say.
- We make every effort to use “Person First Language” when talking about substance use disorder. That means an individual’s condition, illness, or behavior is “only one aspect of who the person is, not the defining characteristic.” Simply put, that means we refer to the person first before any words describing their condition or behavior.