The Seven Types of Stigmas

  • Type 1: Public Stigma

    This happens when the public endorses negative stereotypes and prejudices, resulting in discrimination against people, with mental health conditions. .

  • Type 2: Self Stigma

    Self-Stigma happens when a person with a mental illness or substance-use disorder internalizes public stigma.

  • Type 3: Perceived Stigma

    Perceived stigma is the belief that others have negative beliefs about people with mental illness or substance use disorders.

  • Type 4: Label Avoidance

    This is when a person chooses not to seek treatment to avoid being assigned a stigmatized label. Label avoidance is one of the most harmful forms of stigma.

  • Type 5: Stigma by Association

    Stigma by association occurs when the effects of stigma are extended to someone linked to a person with a mental illness or substance use disorder difficulties. This type of stigma is also known as “courtesy stigma” and “associate stigma”.

  • Type 6: Structural Stigma

    Institutional policies or other societal structures that result in decreased opportunities for people with mental illness are considered structural stigma.

  • Type 7: Health Practitioner Stigma

    This takes place any time a health professional allows stereotypes and prejudices about mental illness or substance use disorders to negatively affect a patient's care.

Grappone, G. (2018). Overcoming Stigma | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Stigma is the number reason people do not seek treatment for substance use disorders and mental health issues. Stigma is expressed and spread through the use of language. Referring to someone using words such as "Addict," "Junkie," or "Drug Abuser" is dangerous and damaging in ways that people don't even realize. It often happens in the judicial system, treatment centers, and in everyday activities. Stigma often comes from a lack of understanding or fear. However, stigma or the fear of being judged and/or discriminated against can prevent people from getting the help they need.


Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE), therefore, created an Empower to Recover campaign, which we have called "Your Words Have Power.


The goal of this campaign is to:

  1. Empower those struggling with any substance use disorder that RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE.
  2. Educate our community that words can be so powerful that they can help make or break a person.


Because our mission at PDPHE is to promote and protect the health and environment of Pueblo County with the vision of having a thriving, healthy and safe Pueblo County. PDPHE believes that using words to empower rather than stigmatize and provide our community with resources is how we can reach those goals.

About the Campaign

Your Words Have Power - Empower to Recover

Features unique stories from individuals living in Pueblo County who have previously struggled with substance use disorders and experienced stigma and discrimination but, regardless, have entered the journey to recovery. Now, these individuals tell their stories to empower and encourage others that recovery is possible, and that recovery is a journey rather than a destination.


Are you interested in being part of this campaign?

Those who have already entered the path of recovery, whether it has been two months, six months, one, or ten years, are ready to share their personal recovery stories while empowering others and reducing the stigma around substance use disorders within Pueblo.

Please contact: Melinda Sentance at [email protected]

Note: For those ready to be part of this, have the following display options:

  • Story, name, and picture
  • Story and picture
  • Story only no picture but name
  • Story with no name or picture


Is your organization ready to book this campaign?

For those interested in booking a silent display event or a panel event * with some of the Your Words Have Power members free of cost

Please contact: Melinda Sentance at [email protected]

*Silent Event: includes 15 displays or less, on easels with speakers present to answer any questions.

  • Panel Event: Consists of having a panel of 3 - 5 storytellers ready to share and discuss their stories in front of an audience. 

Meet Allen

I've been completely sober for just over 20 months today.
I'm not going to use today.
I'm not going to commit any crimes today.
Today I am going to be strong.
Today I'm going to be sober.

~ Allen
Tomorrow, have the strength to repeat today!

Meet Anne

“NO ONE says, I want to be a drug addict and destroy my life.”


~ Anne C. Peer & Family Specialist

Meet Arthur


Most of my life I was in a toxic relationship with myself.
Running the streets, fighting, selling drugs, using drugs, going to jail, and eventually ending up at the halfway house.
I blamed everyone but myself, nothing was ever my fault.

“Don’t Play the Blame Game.”

~ Arthur

Meet Ashley

“Stigma is a learned behavior… Just treat everyone the same.”


~ Ashley P.

Meet Charles


My path to recovery started when I got a hold of some acid that gave me a bad trip. It also messed me up physically for hours; not knowing what was going on with me, I was terrified … In a way, this was my saving grace.

Eventually, I developed willpower, resilience, and self-control to overcome my addiction, which also helped me stay sane when I was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. Many of the inmates fantasized about getting high, but I found education as the solution to distract my mind from following theirs.

Nobody wants to be forced into recovery, but once we make up our mind, go through it and figure out that solutions to problems does not mean getting high, ignoring life and everyone around us, it becomes a life changer.

I have been clean since 1973 and was incarcerated for 29 calendar years, 10585 days, or 254,040 hours.

Ex-Convict? User? Not me.

Life is a gift. Don’t waste it on drugs and bad choices.

Meet Coby


I grew up thinking I could be anything. When I couldn’t quit by myself … that was the stigma, that I can’t quit.

This is a disease not a moral failing.

You tell yourself you’ll only use one more time, you’re only 20. Then you’re 25. Do something NOW.

If I hadn’t been so embarrassed and put the stigma on myself, I wouldn’t have wasted a decade.

~ Coby

Meet Denita


We need to identify who is good for us, and who is not. We have to be able to do that, or we feed the fear that we’re going to be alone.

You are not alone.

You have to take the step to include other people in your life. Who are your roots, not the dead leaves still hanging on the tree.

~ Denita K. Peer Specialist

Meet Jean



That word no longer defines me.

~ Jean H. Colorado Peer & Family Specialist 

Meet Jennifer D.

Jennifer D.

When I had to bury my 21-year-old son, I hit my bottom

Don’t let substances be your escape.

~ Jennifer E.

Meet Jennifer T.

Jennifer T. Before Recovery
Before Recovery
Jennifer T. In Recovery
In Recovery


You must face your mental health issues which is a big part of recovery.

All the trauma, and abuse that you have to deal with to overcome your addiction, you can't do it alone.

Meet Laura


Oh, just a drug addict…..You can’t be successful

~ Laura L. Program Director

Meet Libby


I talk about HOPE all the time.

I love working with people that are dealing with mental health and substance use issues.

Because what I find is when they actually deal with those issues and recover, they’re healthier than most people that never had those issues.

Meet Orlando


It’s incredible how life can be one miracle after another if we choose to pay attention, and this is especially so with a grateful heart;

artwork by Orlando R.

Recovery - ~ Orlando R

Meet Rick


We CAN recover! We DO recover!

Be well and do good things!

~ Rick C. Peer Specialist

Meet Tammie


I have learned throughout many years if you truly and genuinely want change in your life, only you have the willpower to do so.

~ Tammie C. In Recovery

Meet Troy


I was homeless for seven years due to my addiction.
Heroin, Fentanyl, and meth stole the core values I was raised with.
My addiction took my entire family and my career from me.
Today I live in a sober living home and God has given me a blessed life in sobriety.


April 14th, 2022 is my sober date!
It is such a better way to live!
Nothing is Impossible.

~ Troy

Meet Thad


I was being labeled an alcoholic. Even though I came from a family of heavy drinkers, I never wanted that label.

My little house had a huge picture window. Unfortunately, across the street was a liquor store. I was crying, begging the for help from the Universe.

I am going to die if I do? Am I going to die if I don’t?

~ Thad G. Peer Specialist

Meet Wendy


Our drug use was out of control. There was domestic violence, and I ended up leaving. Within two months he overdosed (died).

When someone dies of natural causes the reaction someone has is different that the reaction someone has when it’s a drug overdose.

It’s okay to not be okay. Reach out. There are people who care.

~ Wendy C.