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'Stigma' issues for heroin addicts

By Finn Mac Cool, Sep 24, 2010 | Updated: Sep 25, 2010 | | |
  1. Finn Mac Cool
    A life sentence of stigma prevents heroin and cocaine addicts from recovering and rejoining society, a think-tank has said.

    The Government must tackle the "extreme prejudice" against drug users if it is to succeed in getting addicts off benefits, back into work and playing their full role in society, the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) report said.

    The UKDPC study, which found Britons need to show more compassion if the current barriers to rehabilitation are to be overcome, comes as the Home Office signals a move towards a greater emphasis on abstinence and getting users completely free of drugs.

    Plans to withdraw welfare benefits from addicts who refuse treatment are also being considered.

    Charlie Lloyd, a senior lecturer at York University and the report's author, said: "There is no getting away from the fact that our current society is none too keen on drug users, and even former users, but such attitudes betray a lack of understanding about the nature of addiction which is having many profound effects.

    "Use of heroin and crack, in particular, can be seen to come with a 'stigma life sentence' which is a crucial barrier to recovery and rejoining society."

    He said that one way of moving towards greater compassion was to learn lessons from the United States, where California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a "recovery month" every September to educate the public about addiction.

    Professor Colin Blakemore, of the UKDPC, an independent body analysing the UK's drugs policy, added that the terms "junkie" and "addict" were "pejorative shorthand for perceived social decay, conveying a sense of anxiety out of proportion to reality".

    "Such hostile attitudes only add to the barriers of escape from drug dependence," he said.




  1. TheBigBadWolf
    AW: 'Stigma' issues for heroin addicts

    If only politicians all over the world would listen to what their experts say.

    A bit awkward that it's the police who come to the same drug expert scientist talk about for the last forty years. Nonetheless it is enjoyable that it comes from people who are often seen as "adversaries". The Wolf's contact (having been in leadership of a support group) with our local policemen have long ago lead him to better see them in an other way. Maybe this is an exceptional case, but the self-esteem of these policemen is more on the "social worker" side than on the persecutive one.

  2. Erumelithil
    That seems counter productive in the extreme! I fail to see the sense in cutting the lifeline for vulnerable people.
    Denial is part of the very nature of addiction, a person can't be cured by forcing their hand and coercing them into a programme.

    I'm not very educated on the subject, but it seems common sense to me that in order for a person to beat an addiction in a real and meaningful way, it must be their own choice to do so, rather than just doing it to keep their social welfare benefits.
    I assume that a person who enters a programme against their will is far more likely to relapse than a person who has decided that it's what they really want.
  3. ex-junkie
    Governments need to stop marginalising people through policy. More empathy and understanding is required and this can only come about through education. Fuck what they think they know because the sad truth is they don't know shit.
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