Reduce Stigma Against Substance Use Disorders

Project Name: Substance Use Stigma Assessment and Response Project

Team Leaders, Members and their Organizational Affiliations:

  • Donna Norkoli
  • Emily Pokorski
  • Erin Coe 
  • Kortni Garcia


  • Angie Bruning, Great Start Collaborative
  • Christina Eikenroth, Munson Healthcare
  • Gerry Morris, Project Unity
  • Suzanne Prentice, Catholic Human Services 
  • Lauren Reed, Grand Traverse County Drug-Free Coalition
  • Aaron Shaner, Munson Healthcare
  • Savanah Cool
  • Nicole Schultz
  • Jenny Mickelson
  • Audrey Sharp
  • Kelly Brittain, BCBSM Foundation
  • Corey Hebner, Michigan State Police
  • Timothy Hudson, Michigan Opioid Collaborative
  • Paul Bock, Munson Healthcare
  • Sharon Vreeland, Substance Free Coalition of Northwest Michigan
  • Stacey Kaminski, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health
  • Jody School
  • Pam Lynch, Harm Reduction
  • Grayson Lewis, NMSAS
  • Shawna Shelton, Wexford/Missaukee Public Defenders
  • Jodi Balhorn, NMRE

September 2022 Behavioral Health Summit Materials

Despite the reality that substance use disorders are associated with changes in brain circuitry, people with substance use disorders often face significant stigma for “choosing” to use. As a result, they are sometimes viewed as “bad”, “weak”, or “unfit for society”. These public biases against people with SUDs can deter those affected from seeking help.

The SSAR Action Team developed assessment tools to measure the prevalence of public stigma and self-stigma against substance use disorders in Northwest Michigan.

The survey collected data from 1,374 residents across the 10-county area in Northwest MI. Results showed that a majority of respondents have had a family member or close friend who has faced stigma or discrimination for a substance use disorder. Additionally, 67% of respondents were supportive of implementing harm reduction strategies in the community. The results of the survey imply that there is a strong prevalence of stigma against substance use disorders in the region, but that there is willingness to implement harm reduction programs that can improve the safety and quality of life for those affected.

  • Evaluate and question your own preconceptions about people with substance use disorders. 
  • Share results of the public stigma assessment with community members groups throughout the region
  • Share our self-stigma assessment with anyone you know who is experiencing a substance use disorder or in recovery.