End the Stigma: Sharing Stories of Opioid Use Disorder and Harm Reduction
Katie Zaman, Health and Wellness Coordinator, represents the Utah State University Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement and manages a $1.1 million, 2-year SAMHSA Rural Opioid Technical Assistance grant which provides opioid use disorder and holistic, whole-person wellness resources to rural and tribal communities. This presentation outlines Katie’s effort to provide a unique approach to reducing stigma surrounding opioid use disorder and harm reduction. Katie makes comics as a feminist method for communicating people’s narratives in a way that encourages human connection and empathy. Her simplified cartoon style and the sequential nature of comics require the reader to use their own imagination to fill in details, and this engages the reader in a collaborative process of meaning-making. Through this process, readers are more able to connect their own experiences with the narratives. This act of human connection increases empathy and understanding in the reader. These comics are intended to reduce stigma around medically assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders (SUD), and to engender empathy and respect for those who struggle with SUD.
Katie’s illustrations discussed in this video will be available as part of the USU Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement’s graphic novel project, scheduled for publication in late 2021. April shared her story for a collection of oral histories on the opioid crisis in Utah, and Zaman worked directly with her to create this comic. She created a storyboard, reviewed and clarified details with April, and showed her the draft for feedback and revisions. This is part of a larger collection of narratives that will showcase the diverse needs and circumstances of people with substance use disorder in Utah.
Katie Zaman (she/her/hers) earned her PhD in Sociology from UW-Madison in 2020 and used comics in her dissertation research on gendered risk in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is working as a health and wellness program coordinator in the Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement at Utah State University, where she draws comics and coordinates programing to reduce stigma around substance use disorder and harm reduction, particularly in rural and tribal communities. She is developing a methodology for participatory-arts-based research projects that uses participant-generated art, music, and poetry to facilitate conversations about community strengths, assets, and needs. She has three cats, which is totally a reasonable number of cats.