Camurus is a pharmaceutical company with a clear commitment - to lead the development of advanced drug delivery systems and innovative medical products to improve quality of life for patients with severe and chronic diseases.
Our work addresses several therapeutic areas, including opioid dependence. We want to support healthcare professionals and their patients in accessing innovative treatments, helping to overcome the barriers that can often stand in the way of treatment choice.
We want to help remove the stigma associated with a complex condition like opioid dependence and encourage a more empathetic approach to patients from policy makers, healthcare providers and the public at large. We work in close partnership with organisations that are involved in designing and delivering drug treatment services.
Our aim is to shine a light on examples of best practice, in the hope that these innovative approaches can be more widely adopted, driving improved outcomes for more patients.
As a team, we are truly passionate about what we do. Many of us have direct experience of working in drug treatment services – so we understand both the challenges and rewards of making a real difference to the lives of people struggling with opioid dependency.
IT'S TIME TO ACT ON STIGMA
At Camurus, we’re striving for a future in which people struggling with opioid dependence have access to high quality healthcare just like people living with other chronic conditions do. But one of the biggest barriers to that future is stigma.
Whether it manifests through our assumptions, our words, or our actions, stigma can stand in the way of people getting better. It influences governments to focus on crime rather than healthcare provision. It marginalises healthcare professionals who want to help. It can engender feelings of worthlessness in those with opioid dependence. And it hinders the rest of us from understanding what drug dependence really is and why so many people struggle with it, which in turn may prevent us showing genuine compassion and empathy.
The result is a society that often treats people who use drugs with disdain and fear and a treatment system that doesn’t truly serve the people who need it most. Research has shown that stigma is one of the principal reasons that people with drug dependence don’t enter treatment in the first place.
Drug dependence is the most stigmatised health condition in the world. But dependence is not a choice. There are many reasons why people use drugs, but traumatic life events are often the trigger. Those with significant childhood adversity are 11 times more likely to have used heroin or crack than those without.
Breaking stigma is a huge undertaking and it could take a whole generation to really change perceptions. But that shouldn’t deter us. We can all play a part in challenging stigma right now.
It starts with awareness – learning about the underlying causes of drug dependence, whether that’s childhood trauma, genetics or the overprescribing of opioid medications, and being aware of the negative consequences of stigma on the health and well-being of individuals and society at large.
Understanding that any one of us has the potential to suffer from dependency given the right circumstances, can also help us develop the compassion to view opioid dependence differently.
We also need to challenge stigma whenever we see or hear it. It’s all too easy to let stigmatising language, depictions or policies go unopposed. But we all share a responsibility to stand up to stigma and call it out for what it is – even if that means making a few waves in the process.
And every time we witness stigma we should treat it as an opportunity to teach and help others learn about drug dependence and the challenges drug users tend to face.
Awareness, challenge, teach – that’s how we can ACT on STIGMA right now and all play a role as individuals in helping to change public opinion and in turn motivate decision makers to enact policies that can really make a difference to the health and well-being of people who use drugs.
1. Benyamina, A., Stöver, H. 2012. Barriers to treatment access and informed patient choice in the treatment of opioid dependence in Europe. Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems. 14(4), 65 - 80.
2. Cheetham A, et al. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. 2022:13 1–12.
3. Bellis, M. A., et al. 2014. Nation
Please note, Camurus have provided sponsorship of this event but provided no input into the programme.
The views and opinions of the speakers are not necessarily those of Camurus.
UK-NPR-2300110 October 2023