Addressing opioid stigma in pharmacies

Since Canada began tracking the number of opioid-related deaths and other harms in 2016, more than 40,000 people have died due to apparent opioid toxicity. Between January and June 2023 alone, there were an average of 22 deaths per day*. 

To address this crisis, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has created a toolkit that provides valuable insights and resources for frontline pharmacy professionals to support people taking opioids to mitigate the negative impacts of stigma.

The toolkit describes strategies for reducing stigma around opioids and people who use them, including people who are prescribed opioids to manage pain or treat opioid use disorder or who are seeking naloxone kits. It illustrates some of these strategies by applying them to situations that pharmacy professionals may encounter in practice.

Addressing Opioid Stigma in Pharmacies - Strategies for Pharmacy Professionals

Addressing Opioid Stigma in Pharmacies_Strategies for Pharmacy Professionals_February 2024_CAMH.






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Patients are more than their prescription

Stigma can be a major barrier for people seeking support for opioid use disorder and pain management.

By offering non-judgmental care, we can support patients to safely get the help they seek.




Patients are more than their prescription - Instagram

Canada is in the midst of an opioid poisoning crisis - but pharmacy professionals can make a difference.

By taking the time to understand individual circumstances, you can provide better care and reduce the stigma around opioids.


 Opioid Agonist Therapy Saves Lives - Instagram

Ending the opioid poisoning crisis means that every health care professional must play a role in harm reduction.

For people with an opioid use disorder, opioid agonist therapy reduces the risk of mortality by more than half.


My pharmacy is a safe and judgment-free space to talk about opioid use.

I’m committed to ending opioid stigma and providing compassionate care to people seeking support.

Join me and share this message.




Opioid stigma is a barrier to care. Judgment-free pharmacies can save lives.

Research shows that people often experience stigma when they access opioid agonist therapy in pharmacies. And when stigma gets in the way of this life-saving therapy, there can be serious consequences.




Naloxone kits save lives

Canada’s opioid poisoning crisis has taken too many lives.

Give take-home naloxone kits to patients and anyone who asks. Explain how to use them so everyone has the tools to respond to an opioid overdose.



40,000 plus lives have been lost to the opioid poisoning crisis in Canada. Each time you read this, that number will have gone up.

Canada is in the midst of an opioid poisoning crisis—but pharmacy professionals can make a difference.

You can help save lives by extending your support beyond prescriptions. It includes offering harm reduction services, providing take-home naloxone kits and educating patients on how to use them.


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Pharmacists play a critical role in addressing the opioid poisoning crisis. Swipe below and see what you can do to help reduce harm.

Canada is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Here's how pharmacists can help:Reflect on how your words and actions impact others. Optimize care by using a trauma-informed approach for all.Offer to have conversations in a private space. Respect patient autonomy, dignity, time and privacy.Learn and Lead. Advocate for opioid agonist therapy at your pharmacy. Educate yourself on opioid use disorder, chronic pain, and how to manage challenging situations.



For more information about the Mental Health and Addictions Pharmacists Community of Practice, please get in touch with Beth Sproule (beth.sproule@camh.ca) and Maria Zhang (maria.zhang@camh.ca). 

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