#SquashTheStigma through water balloon challenge

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) is once again launching an online water balloon challenge in an effort to squash the stigma associated with substance use disorder in advance of International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31.

PDFNJ’s online Squash the Stigma Challenge, taking place this week and continuing through Aug. 31, calls on people to take a public stand against stigma.

To participate, individuals simply fill up a few balloons with water, write stigmatizing words or beliefs on each balloon in marker, and then record themselves squashing the balloons on the ground. In their videos they nominate three people to participate within the next 48 hours, and then post it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #SquashTheStigma.

Stigma is a major public health issue that describes negative attitudes or beliefs associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. The social stigma associated with the disease of addiction damages a person’s self-esteem, their relationship with loved ones, and often hinders those who have substance use disorder from seeking treatment.

“We must address and try to eliminate the pervasive stigma associated with the drug crisis in our country,” PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “Now more than ever, we must be more aware of the language we use when we are speaking about substance use disorder and those who are affected by it.”

Another way PDFNJ is breaking down this stigma of addiction is through the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Our Stories Campaign that enables those who have been impacted by addiction to share their personal experiences and help others better understand the disease of addiction.

To learn more about the Our Stories campaign, click here, and to view videos of people participating in the Squash the Stigma Challenge, click here, or simply type the trending hashtag #SquashTheStigma on Facebook, Instagram,or Twitter.