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The Addiction Policy Forum’s Anti-Stigma Initiative Launches in 100 Sites

Communities all across the United States have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic — fentanyl, oxycontin, heroin — as well as increased substance use disorders (SUDs) during COVID-19. Today, many such cities have been selected for the Addiction Policy Forum’s new Anti-Stigma Initiative rolling out across the country.

Cities from Manchester, New Hampshire, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, have been accepted into the program, which is bringing an anti-stigma initiative to 100 pilot sites chosen from applications submitted to APF. Pilot sites include:

  • States, counties, cities, tribes
  • Criminal justice agencies
  • Schools, colleges, universities 
  • Hospitals, healthcare providers
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Professional associations 
  • Other community organizations

The program includes both a survey component and an educational component. The APF provides funding for surveying attitudes toward addiction to establish baselines. Beyond surveying, the agency provides in-person and virtual education on the benefits of reducing stigma for the individual and the community.

The educational program is broad and deep and not about stigma so much as it is about understanding what addiction is, how it works, what treatments are available, and what the likely outcomes are based on scientific research. Subjects covered include:

  • The science of addiction
  • The signs and symptoms of addiction
  • Evidence-based treatment options
  • Wellness strategies, including the prevention of substance use disorders

According to APF, the stigma of addiction largely falls away when there is awareness of addiction causes and treatments:

Understanding addiction as a health condition underscores its treatability and encourages early intervention and access to the healthcare system and better management of the chronic health condition.

It is expected to take a year for the APF to conduct surveys, deliver educational programs, and tally the results. Hopefully, by next January, we could see a larger rollout if attitudes change and resistance to treatment declines in pilot areas. Stay tuned to AddictionNews for updates.

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published January 25, 2024.


“Addiction Policy Forum Launches Nationwide Anti-Stigma Initiative,” Addiction Policy Forum news release dated October 3, 2023.

“Manchester among 100 cities chosen for anti-stigma program to battle addiction,” New Hampshire Union-Leader, January 24, 2024.

“Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition, Addiction Policy Forum launch survey on addiction,” Kenosha County news release dated January 12, 2024.

“Responding to Addiction,” Addiction Policy Forum, October 8, 2022.

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