Kristy is a mother and a strong, compassionate harm-reduction worker. She’s also recovering from opioid use and her father’s death from his own addiction. Kristy continues to battle grief, judgment, and anger. When Kristy is stigmatized for substance use, it brings back the sense of weakness, making treatment tougher and more isolating. As she says, she “feels powerless.”

“People are mean, and I really think they need to take a step back and look at the whole picture. No one wakes up one morning and wants to be an addict. Nobody.”Kristy


Jay is a chemical engineer, world traveller, and loving son. When his mother died, Jay started using substances to cope with his grief and the loss. When Jay is stigmatized for substance use, he feels small, making him less likely to seek help and much-needed connection. He wants to be treated like the adult he is. As he says, “It’s like you’re nothing.”

“People need to start treating people like people instead of looking at them like what they think they are.”Jay


Nikki is a mother and an outspoken advocate for people experiencing homelessness who use substances. She also lost her home in a fire and her young son to a shooting. Nikki is trying to get back on her feet but still uses substances to dull her pain from losing her son. When Nikki is stigmatized for substance use, she feels her loss all over again. Before she was homeless, it was easy—now it’s hard to get help, walk down the street, or even get medical attention. As she says, “People don’t see me anymore.”

“You go from being friends with people to not knowing them anymore because they don’t want you around. You lose your own family because they are embarrassed. You lose everything.”Nikki