Stop saying ‘junkie’: Adverts aim to end stigma over alcohol and drug problems

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A national campaign to treat drug and alcohol problems as health conditions and urge people to stop using words like “alcohol” and “addict” began on Monday.

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The Scottish Government’s campaign aims to highlight the damage caused by the stigma of problem drug and alcohol use and how it can prevent those affected from getting help.

The campaign comes as Scotland grapples with a drug-death crisis.

One of the posters in the campaign (Scottish Government/PA)

Last year, 1,339 people died due to drug use in Scotland, a 5% increase from the previous year, and the highest on record.

According to data published in August, alcohol-related deaths rose 17% to 1,190 in 2020, the highest since 2008.

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There were 14,310 drug-related hospital stays in Scotland in 2020/21.

The campaign included posters and TV commercials featuring a tearful woman who said: “No, I’m not well. I have a problem with alcohol.”

Another poster shows a man on drugs with a similar message.

The ads said: “A drug or alcohol problem is a health condition. People should be getting help and support, not justice. Let’s end the stigma of addiction.”

The ads link to an information page on the NHS urging a “compassionate” approach to those affected, saying: “People struggling with alcohol or drug problems should receive the same support and treatment as people with any other health condition.” should meet.”

The campaign aims to remove stigma from people with problems with drugs and alcohol (Scottish Government/PA).

It continues: “Substance use has been viewed as the result of a lifestyle choice or poor decisions. It has been described or seen as the result of a mistake or moral weakness.

“It’s stigmatizing and unhelpful. It shows the connection between drug or alcohol use and personal failures. It allows substance use to be linked to character or morality. Seeing it as just a personal issue can stigmatize.” and enhances it.”

It calls on people to help challenge stigma by speaking up when they hear “negative or false remarks about people with drug or alcohol problems.”

It advises that terms such as “addicts, alcoholics and addicts” should not be used, but be replaced with “persons with problematic substance use, persons with harmful alcohol use and persons with problematic drug use”. needed.

We must remember that people with substance abuse problems are family members, neighbors, friends, and co-workers

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “This is a tough national campaign that encourages people to look at the personal story behind the stereotype.

“Stigma is not only harming the individual in terms of their mental health and sense of self-worth, but it also discourages them from coming forward to help them. It affects friends and family members as well.

“We must remember that people with substance abuse problems are family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers.

“By addressing the stigma, and the silence and isolation it causes, we make it easier for people to seek help and that is to the benefit of each of us.”


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