U.S. Attorneys, DEA Launch Website to Combat Stigma of Substance Use Disorder
ALEXANDRIA, VA (STL.News) Federal law enforcement leaders in the Commonwealth of Virginia today announced the launch of www.storiesoverstigma.com to fight back against the silent health epidemic of substance use disorder.
“Our hope is that through this website we will empower Virginians to share their buried stories of substance use disorder,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Unfortunately, the stigma that historically accompanies this disease often silences family and friends of the deceased. Those who succumb to substance use disorder are our loved ones: our parents, our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and friends. They deserve to have their stories told, free from shame and without stigma.”
Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports that fatal drug overdose has been the leading method of unnatural death in Virginia since 2013.
“We must work together to do all we can to stem the flow of opioids in our communities and the addiction and death they can cause,” said Daniel P. Bubar, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “This website is a major step toward encouraging individuals across Virginia to join together and tell their stories as we seek to remove the stigma of substance use disorder. I thank our colleagues in the Eastern District for inviting our participation in making sure these important stories are told.”
The website will allow those who have a family member whose life has been tragically cut short by substance use disorder, to share their story through the power of social media. Five families who lost their loved ones to substance use disorders have provided details about what happened in the hopes of turning those tragedies into life-saving conversations and lessons for others. The platform, in turn, allows others across Virginia to add to the story and let others know they are not alone in this ongoing fight to save lives.
The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, together with the DEA and other law enforcement partners, is continuing to work with countless families and advocates to raise awareness and change the false narrative that substance use disorder is a choice. Through this joint effort, the federal partners and others behind this effort are hoping to change the conversation.
Towards that goal, #StoriesOverStigma is a social activation that allows people in recovery and family members who have lost a loved one to share their stories and change the conversation. The website is aimed at educating others about the dangers of substance use disorders, to start lifesaving conversations with our youths and loved ones, and emphasizes that there is hope for those who need help.