On Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, King County launched ‘Don’t Count Us Out,’ an online campaign that aims to reduce the stigma that surrounds people who suffer from an active addiction or are in recovery.

Launching on Facebook, Instagram, KCTV and streaming audio, the campaign’s key message is that addiction does not define anyone’s future, and that recovery is always possible for anyone who wants to reclaim their life from addiction. The campaign drives traffic to the companion website, SupportAddictionRecovery.com, shares scientific facts about addiction, important statistics about recovery, ways to help someone with an addiction, and resources for getting treatment.

Councilmember Reagan Dunn, in collaboration with Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, proposed the initiative and championed $500,000 in funding for it in King County’s 2021 mid-biennial supplemental budget.

“Many people do not know that I am active in recovery from alcohol abuse and I have achieved many years of sobriety. I am so very lucky to have the support of my family, friends, and recovery community. Their support is what made the real difference in helping me reclaim my life,” said Dunn. “I realized from this experience that in order to empower those who are battling addiction to take that big step and get treatment, we need to give them encouragement and hope—not judgement or scorn. That’s what this campaign is about.”

Here’s more from the county:

There are two central themes of the anti-stigma campaign: the first, “don’t count us out,” seeks to address the sentiment that once someone has a substance use disorder, they will forevermore be fragile, when in fact, most people do recover from substance use disorder. According to one study, 80% of people who suffer from addiction are able to go on to achieve major life goals such as having a job or getting an education. The second theme, “support makes a difference,” emphasizes that receiving encouragement and emotional support, rather than judgement, makes a huge difference for people seeking recovery. Research shows that fear of judgement and shame stops 90% of people with an addiction from seeking the help they need.

“Addiction has touched the lives of many of us, including of family members and friends, and recovery can be difficult and also transformative,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “Individuals struggling with substance use disorder are not alone, but connected to a community that not only cares, but is filled with people who have experienced, witnessed, and overcome similar struggles. Stigma should never be a reason for someone to choose not to reach out for the supports they need to move forward, and by speaking out loudly through this campaign, I hope we can remind them that this journey is nothing about which to feel ashamed.”

In King County, deaths from drug and alcohol poisoning have greatly increased in recent years, largely driven by skyrocketing rates of deaths caused by fentanyl, which are on track to more than triple in 2022 compared to 2020.

“When we end the silence around substance use disorder, it’s powerful to see not only how common addiction is, but also how common recovery is. People can and do get better and go on to accomplish their life goals and contribute to their community,” said Executive Constantine. “However, far too many do not seek out the treatment that will help them move forward from fear of judgment and shame. By showing our support and reducing the stigma around treatment, we can help more people access the tools they need to recover.”

The campaign will take place on KCTV, Facebook, Instagram, and streaming audio, complementing the billboards sharing the same message that the County has placed on major roadways countywide.