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Mass. renews public health campaign to end the stigma of addiction

As the state experiences a slight rise in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has rolled out a new phase of its media campaign to combat the stigma of substance addiction.

The #StateWithoutStigMA campaign features fresh voices and faces reminding people of the importance of accessing lifesaving care including treatment, recovery and support resources, the department said in a statement.

The $575,000 campaign, funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s State Opioid Response federal grant, features people from all walks of life talking about how and why they support fighting the stigma of addiction.


“As we continue to fight COVID-19, we remain aware of the impact the pandemic has had on the recovery community and residents struggling with addiction,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a release announcing the campaign.

Advertisements will be featured on TV, billboards, digital media, social media and display ads on public hand sanitizer stations across the state through the end of February.

The media blitz comes as the state has seen a slight increase in opioid-related overdose deaths.

In the first nine months of 2020, there were 1,517 confirmed deaths, an estimated 33 more deaths compared to the same time period in 2019, according to state public health data.

The uptick coincided with new economic and public health challenges presented by state shutdowns and the coronavirus.

Dr. Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner, hopes the campaign will influence people’s decision to ask for help.

“We recognize that substance use disorder is a medical disease,” Bharel said. “As we continue to devote substantial resources towards treatment and recovery services and support, we have to continue our fight against the stigma that prevents people from accessing these lifesaving resources.”

Sofia Saric can be reached at sofia.saric@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @sofia_saric.