Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 30(3) September 2017 : 73-79.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2018.25383
Challenging Stigma

Lessons Learned After Losing my Brother to an Overdose: A Call to Action for Nurse Leaders

Leigh Chapman


The current overdose epidemic we are facing in Canada and internationally calls on nursing leaders to prioritize holistic and compassionate care for people who use drugs (PWUD) and their families. Nurses are well positioned to provide person-centred care and advocate with and for this population. To do so requires an examination of one’s personal values and beliefs surrounding drugs and the people who use them. As a nurse leader, I was forced to confront my views about illicit drug use following the untimely death of my brother Brad from overdose. This paper chronicles my personal experience with his death and subsequent journey into advocacy for drug policy reform amidst an emerging overdose crisis. This short paper is written from my personal perspective, and informed by both personal and professional experiences in drug policy reform. It addresses strategies for challenging stigma and opportunities for partnering with PWUD through engagement in harm reduction.  



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