Substance use disorder affects millions of people in the US. Yet, only a fraction of people receive the treatment and support services they need to live healthier lives. As a result of racism and other forms of discrimination, this is especially true for Black, Brown LGBTQ+ and other systemically-excluded communities.

Rather than seeing addiction as a devastating health condition, our society often portrays addiction as a moral failure or even an outright criminal act.

As a result, many people — especially Black, brown, Native American, LGBTQ+, and young people face arrest, incarceration, and other extreme responses to their illness. The problem is compounded by coverage gaps and discrimination in health insurance, siloing substance use disorders and their treatment from the rest of the health system, treatment shortages, and the cost of care.

As part of our health justice work, Community Catalyst is creating durable, cross-movement connections between advocates for health care, criminal justice, harm reduction, mental health, and substance use disorders. Together, we are working with communities to improve health care at local, state, and federal levels through policy that is shaped by and accountable to people with lived experience of substance use disorders.