Fighting Stigma with Education

Kids Off Drugs

The Baltimore City Health Department leads public health campaigns to prevent addiction and overdose death, focusing on de-stigmatizing addiction and its treatment.

Kids Off Drugs

In collaboration with Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore and Catalyst of Change, K.O.D. (Kids Off Drugs) is a high-energy, school-based initiative that helps youth and young adults avoid or reduce substance use. The program helps young people learn about the history of drugs in Baltimore and the cultural norms that lead to substance use.

Based on Grammy award-winning rapper J-Cole and his K.O.D. album, Kids On Drugs, the Kids Off Drugs program incorporates aspects of Hip-Hop and Baltimore culture — including language, arts, and history — as a social, cultural, and contextual framework for addressing substance use. 

Through the use of Hip-Hop culture, interactive presentations, and local celebrities, youth learn about:

  • Drugs and their effects 

  • Risky behavior associated with substance use

  • Resistance and refusal skills

  • Effective communication and negotiation skills

  • History, race, and culture

  • Prevention self-efficacy skills

We offer three K.O.D. activities for schools: Juice and Paint, Versuz Battle, and Tiny Desk. Each activity creates spaces for young people to express themselves creatively and share their experiences.

 For more information, please visit us here.


History of Substance Use in Baltimore City

By broadening the audience's exposure to information about how Baltimore City has reached this point in the opioid epidemic, we can reduce stigma and increase awareness about the factors that impact people who use drugs every single day.  


Previous Campaigns

Don’t Die

Don’t Die is a campaign focused on reducing the stigma of addiction, promoting substance use disorder treatment, and educating the public to recognize and respond to an overdose with the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone.  

Black Box Warning

Black box warning for benzos and opioids –In February 2016, a group of health directors led by Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, called for a “black box warning” on opioids and benzodiazepines (like Xanax and Valium) that states that concurrent use of the medications increases the risk of fatal overdose. Black box warnings appear on the labels of prescription drugs and call attention to serious or life-threatening risks. Dr. Wen and Dr. Alexander-Scott signed the petition by health directors from 16 other states and territories and 12 other cities, along with a collection of nationally renowned academics, researchers, and physicians. The petition was successful: in August 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted the “black box warning” on the concurrent prescription of opioids and benzodiazepines.

Talking About Stigma