PDFNJ Announces Second Annual Squash the Stigma Online Challenge for International Overdose Awareness Day



Contact: Natalie Golub, 973-382-4560, natalie@drugfreenj.org


PDFNJ Announces Second Annual Squash the Stigma Online Challenge for International Overdose Awareness Day

MILLBURN—The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) is once again launching an online water balloon challenge in an effort to squash the stigma associated with substance use disorder in advance of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31.

PDFNJ’s online Squash the Stigma Challenge, taking place this week and continuing through the 31st of August, calls on people to take a public stand against stigma. To participate, individuals simply fill up a few balloons with water, write stigmatizing words or beliefs on each balloon in marker, and then record themselves squashing the balloons on the ground. In their videos they nominate three people to participate within the next 48 hours, and then post it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #SquashTheStigma.

Stigma is a major public health issue that describes negative attitudes or beliefs associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. The social stigma associated with the disease of addiction damages a person’s self-esteem, their relationship with loved ones, and often hinders those who have substance use disorder from seeking treatment.

“We must address and try to eliminate the pervasive stigma associated with the drug crisis in our country,” PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “Now more than ever, we must be more aware of the language we use when we are speaking about substance use disorder and those who are affected by it.”

Another way PDFNJ is breaking down this stigma of addiction is through the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Our Stories Campaign that enables those who have been impacted by addiction to share their personal experiences and help others better understand the disease of addiction. 

To learn more about the Our Stories campaign click here, and to view videos of people participating in the Squash the Stigma Challenge, click here or simply type the trending hashtag #SquashTheStigma on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Interview and photo opportunities are available upon request.


Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication.  To date, more than $100 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 180 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.