Ignored Inequities: The Case of British Columbia’s “Stop Overdose” Anti-Stigma Campaign
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AbstractAnti-stigma campaigns have become a common intervention for addressing the drug toxicity crisis in Canada. Recent reviews have shown a widespread trend where White, middle-class people who use drugs dominate the imagery and messaging of these campaigns, excluding marginalized people who use drugs who face disproportionate effects of substance use stigma. The current study investigates this troubling trend by examining the development process of the BC Government’s “Stop Overdose” anti-stigma campaign. Developers’ goal of shifting the focus away from “stereotypical” marginalized people who use drugs, the uncritical channeling of narratives about substance use, and the prioritization of both “relevance” and marketing-based knowledge may explain the campaign’s counterintuitive focus on White, middle-class people who use drugs. In effect, these strategies, goals, and priorities obscure the experience of marginalized people who use drugs, naturalizing deep inequities which perpetuate the drug toxicity crisis. This study highlights a need for further research on anti-stigma campaigns, especially as government organizations continue to allocate significant resources to their development.
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