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Update: Becoming a recovery friendly Olympic region

Stigma of substance use disorder (SUD) is a health challenge that requires a collaborative and innovative regional response. Through the support and engagement of local partners, Olympic Community of Health (OCH) creates spaces to discuss the impacts of stigma, elevate community voices, and collaborate on ways to better care for our communities.

OCH recently compiled regional findings on the presence of SUD stigma into a presentation that was made available to groups across the Olympic region. This project was made possible thanks to the funding support from Cambia Health Solutions, background and data support from Collaborative Consulting, and the insights from our amazing partners.

To date, OCH has completed 16 presentations with local groups across Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap counties and has engaged with over 365 individuals.

These discussions have been an amazing opportunity to build connections with partners (new and existing) and learn from community experience. We have connected with elected officials, health care providers, administrative staff, Tribal members, community members, and so many others.

Each presentation is catered to the needs and interests of your group and may include:

  • Overview of: What is stigma? What contributes to and perpetuates stigma? How it impacts the community

  • A look at regional quantitative data around regional substance use, overdose rates, and treatment patterns for both adults and youth

  • Key themes and quotes from 10 focus groups and over 200 survey responses

  • Examples of local programs/projects successfully addressing stigma

  • Opportunities for action towards becoming a recovery friendly region

All of the discussions have helped to shed light on the ways stigma shows up in various communities and the amazing work going on to address it. These discussions cultivate energy and opportunities for collaboration on a challenging topic that is often ignored.

One group shared, “People came away more aware and equipped to be the safe open people our community needs to move us toward less stigma."

Another, “This has been one of the most impactful presentations we have ever had".

OCH staff members shared, I'm consistently encouraged by the responses I encounter from local leaders, who seem receptive, engaged, and at times outspoken about the need to address stigma in their own communities.”

And, “Each time I share the stigma findings with partners, I learn more from others about the impact of SUD stigma and feel further inspired to continue this work. For example, last week a social worker shared that pregnant women in recovery will often refuse prenatal visits due to their experiences being treated as drug seeking, even after years of healing.”

Most common commitments coming out of these discussions:

How OCH is working to address stigma of substance use disorder:

  • Continuing to share stigma findings with groups across the region. OCH is currently preparing to present several more discussions with new partners. If you are interested in hosting OCH to share stigma findings and opportunities for action, email

  • Funding opportunity: Olympic youth addressing stigma OCH is excited to announce a funding opportunity for youth-led projects that meaningfully address and reduce the stigma of substance use disorder in the Olympic region. Learn more about this funding opportunity by reviewing the request for proposals (RFP) and budget template, due to by May 22. Applicants are encouraged to connect with youth coalitions, youth-serving organizations, and other youth groups throughout the region to identify youth-led projects that will address SUD stigma.

  • Recovery Hero campaign The Recovery Hero campaign features the voices of community members with lived experience of SUD stigma and/or an individual or group who advocates for and fosters a recovery-friendly community.

  • Coffee Break Video Series OCH recently released the second episode of the series, discussing the presence of stigma of substance use disorder. This video features the perspective and experience of Anya Callahan (Social Worker and Community Advocate) and Brian Burwell (SUD Counselor at Suquamish Tribe Wellness Center). OCH is in the process of creating the third and fourth episodes, which will cover projects addressing stigma and the importance of trauma-informed care.

  • Action Collaboratives: Together, recovery is possible By prioritizing collaborative and innovative approaches to address substance use disorder, we can achieve the vision of being a recovery friendly Olympic region. Under the new strategic plan, OCH and partners will build on successes and innovations that came out of our initial focus on the opioid crisis. This action collaborative will expand to address other substances such as alcohol and stimulants while also addressing cultural and societal impacts like stigma. Learn more about upcoming action collaboratives on our website or contact

We are continuously inspired by the region’s commitment to learn more about stigma and ways to better support our communities. We are stronger together and look forward to continuing to build and support partnerships that foster a recovery friendly Olympic region.

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