The BC Lions are proud to partner with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to help address the harmful impact of stigma around addiction and the drug poisoning crisis. Read about how the team is getting involved.

“Having been born and raised here in B.C., I’ve seen the effects of the toxic drug crisis and all the lives lost. People need to know that addiction can affect anyone. That’s why I want to get involved.” – Sean Millington

There’s no one way to know if someone is experiencing addiction, we might not be aware of what someone is going through. Everyone has their own story. People with substance use disorder come from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and experiences. They are someone’s child, partner, or parent. They have passions, jobs, and hobbies. They love, care, and feel. Taking time to learn about someone’s experience and how they’re feeling can make your connection stronger. It can help them to feel seen and respected.

“When I was growing up, I saw people close to me experiencing addiction. This is a topic that I really care about and needs to be talked about more. I know firsthand that words can hurt people. What you say matters.” – JR LaRose

Words have a big impact; they can hurt others, even when they’re not meant to. Labels can cause people to feel small, powerless, and ashamed. While some people may choose this language to describe their own experiences, we should avoid placing labels on others. We can be mindful and inclusive with the type of language we use and communicate in a supportive way. It’s important for us to find kinder, safer ways to talk about substance use.

“For me, having a sense of community and connection to others has always been important. I know how much reaching out and being there for others matters. It can make all the difference. I want people to know that.” – Bo Lokombo

Stigma has a big impact on people who use drugs and their families. This can be isolating. And makes it hard to reach out for help, for fear of being judged. People may hide their drug use and use drugs alone, which can increase the risk of both fatal and non-fatal overdose. Reaching out and having conversations that are free of blame or judgement can support them to take the next step in seeking help. No matter what we’ve thought in the past, we can choose to look at things in a different way. We all have a part to play to help stop the stigma

“As a coach, you want the best for everyone. I know it can be hard to know what to say if someone needs support. Just try to be there for them, this can really help. I will always speak up to let my players and my community know I care.” – Rick Campbell

The ‘tough love’ approach can cause people living with addiction to feel shame or blamed. It can have the opposite effect that is intended and push them away. Connecting with others using kindness and compassion goes a long way. Showing your support is not enabling their addiction. People who use drugs and people with substance use disorders deserve to be treated with respect. This can help them to feel heard, seen, and valued. And can make a big difference in someone’s life.


To learn more, visit

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