“I am addressing you on behalf of Dianova, a non-governmental organization with 26 members dedicated to bringing about social change in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. For over 40 years, Dianova has been implementing addiction treatment and prevention programs all over the world. Our intervention programs are grounded in a strong gender component that makes it easier for women and girls to address their substance use disorders.
“According to a study carried out by the World Health Organization, addiction to illicit drugs is one of the most stigmatizing conditions. People with substance use disorders often experience moral judgement from society, leading to feelings of embarrassment, guilt, frustration, rejection, and uselessness. In turn, these feelings may trigger further substance use and other types of risky behavior, and hinder people’s access to treatment.
“In 2018, Dianova launched the Quit Stigma Now campaign with a series of activities and publications which purpose was to emphasize how people with substance use disorders can be stigmatized and discriminated against in the media, healthcare environments, and the workplace. The campaign was also designed to promote a change in attitudes among these social actors through a number of recommendations.
“Based on the necessity of eradicating addiction stigma, this year’s “Human Empowerment” campaign is still underway. Our objective is to promote addiction treatment programs grounded in a comprehensive perspective of personal development, and to emphasize the myriad of problems women with substance use disorders must face on a daily basis. At Dianova, we understand ‘human empowerment’ as a way to recover one’s ability to choose, acquire life skills, and eventually regain control over one’s life.
“The many barriers women must overcome to access addiction treatment programs, the stigma they have to face, and their need of specific treatment modalities have been widely recognized, however funding to address these challenges remains elusive.
“For these reasons, Dianova advocates the development of gender-sensitive programs and the implementation of specific modalities for women and girls. In addition, we believe that these programs should be culturally-adapted and incorporate modalities such as separate programs for women, acceptance of children and special attention for pregnant women. Lastly, we believe that the highest priority should be given to educating public opinion and health professionals proactively so that they provide women with the same treatment standards as men.
“Dianova urges the member nations of CICAD to implement all the necessary measures to effectively put an end to stigma, particularly in health and social environments, the media and in the workplace. In addition to these measures, initiatives aimed at improving women’s access to, and retention in, treatment programs should be implemented. As a civil society organization, Dianova will of course remain at the service of CICAD and its member countries in their endeavor to achieve these goals.”
 Mentioned in: Stigma, social inequality and alcohol and drug use (2008) – Robin Room et al.