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Home > Getting serious about stigma: the problem with stigmatising drug users. An overview.

UK Drug Policy Commission. (2010) Getting serious about stigma: the problem with stigmatising drug users. An overview. London: UK Drug Policy Commission.

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This report provides an overview of the findings of a wide ranging research project looking at the extent and nature of stigma towards current and ex-drug users and their families. The research programme involved a public attitudes survey, an analysis of how drug use and drug users are portayed in the print media and a qualitaitve study of the stigma experienced by current and ex-users and their families.

This research shows that people with a history of drug problems are heavily stigmatised and are seen as both blameworthy and to be feared. As a result they are subject to exclusion and discrimination in many areas. The stigmatisation of people with drug problems has serious consequences for government policy. Key policies seeking greater reintegration and recovery and moving people from benefits into work will not succeed while stigmatising attitudes are pervasive and, as a result, drug problems will remain entrenched rather than overcome. Experience from other fields, such as mental health, show that stigma can be reduced and the report suggests key areas for action.


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