HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Join Together Atlantic County, a substance misuse prevention coalition, will display its version of the Strangers Project at the library during the month of September.
This display will include handwritten anonymous thoughts, opinions, pictures and personal stories on addiction from members of the community. The purpose of this project is to capture society's perceptions on addiction and help expose the unwanted stigma associated with it through the language people use when discussing addiction.
Stigma plays a crucial role in why people do not seek treatment. People who experience stigma are often seen as “less than” because of their mental or physical state. The stigma of addiction discriminates against people who have a substance misuse disorder and also isolates them from society. It is Join Together Atlantic County's goal to reduce the stigma, which will ultimately allow anyone with a substance misuse disorder to seek help without being judged or looked at differently. One of the ways to help combat this is by using different words. Instead of referring to people as addicts or junkies use words like “a person with a substance misuse disorder” or “a person in active addiction.” Or instead of referring to them as dirty or clean, refer to them as actively or not actively using. Using less judgmental language will better today’s understanding and eliminate the negative stereotypes associated with addition.
Over the past three years, Join Together Atlantic County has worked with Stockton University service learning classes on developing the Substance Misuse Strangers Project. Each year a new group of students is given the task of collecting personal thoughts, opinions and stories from strangers at tabling evets. They then displayed what they collected on campus for others to read.
In addition to the display there will be a plethora of information and resources pertaining to substance misuse prevention and treatment.
The display will be available at the Mays Landing branch of the Atlantic County Library System, 40 Farragut Ave.