Change the Narrative Challenge

Change the Narrative Challenge  

View the Change the Narrative pledge in English, Portuguese,  Spanish, or French.

 Ver em portuguê​s. Ver en español. Voir en français.

The Urgent Challenge: Stigma, Blame, and Shame

The shame and stigma surrounding substance use disorders leads people who are affected to feel isolated, hopeless, and unable to share their experiences with others who could support them towards recovery. Calling people "addicts" incorrectly suggests that those with substance use disorders choose to engage in criminal and immoral behavior, when they are in fact experiencing a disease. This language inherently blames people for their problems rather than seeking to help them, while reinforcing harmful power dynamics and marginalizing a vulnerable population. 

It is crucial for health care providers and systems to see substance use disorders as a chronic disease that can be successfully treated to provide patients with the care they so urgently need.

What is the Change the Narrative Challenge?

The Change the Narrative Challenge is a month-long competition across our networks to get 20,000 people to commit to using person-first and recovery-focused language to change the narrative on substance use disorders.

When: April 15 - May 15, 2019

Who: Everyone! We challenge you to talk to friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers about the importance of person-first, recovery-focused language.

How: Between April 15 and May 15, 2019, the IHI Open School aims to encourage 20,000 people to commit to stop sigma and take a stand for person-first, recovery-focused language by signing the Change the Narrative Pledge. Will you commit to using the language of recovery?

Participating in the Challenge

Register your Open School Chapter, organization, institution, or your group of friends to participate in the challenge. You can participate as an individual as well.

Prizes include:

  • The team with the most pledges by May 15, 2019 will be named the Change Agent of the Year and earn at least four free spots to the 2019 IHI National Forum. The team will present their work, be interviewed at the Forum, and be featured on the IHI website.
  • The individual with the most pledges by May 15, 2019 will earn a scholarship to an upcoming IHI Virtual Expedition of their choice.

Team Resources

  1. Download the Change the Narrative Challenge Starter Toolkit for guidance and ideas as you launch your efforts in the Challenge.
  2. Sign and share the pledge, available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. You can also download and print the pledge. If you'd like to track hand-written signatures you've collected, please track your progress here.
  3. Learn from peers' efforts, like the Open School Chapters at Purdue University that developed "stigma-busting" programs, and at the University of Toronto that is engaging and mobilizing their community to raise awareness about substance use disorders.
  4. Download the Change the Narrative Action Guide for additional information about this action area.
  5. Need inspiration and an elevator pitch to explain to your networks why changing the narrative matters? Use this graphic to teach others why this movement is so important.

    What else can you do to take action in the Recover Hope Campaign? Learn more here.