Stigma Hinders Drug Users' Recovery, Report Finds

Referring to problem drug users as “junkies” or “addicts” can interfere with their recovery, according to a review of research on stigma and drug use, the Guardian reported Aug. 24.

The report was the first in a series of four planned reports to be published by Britain’s UK Drugs Policy Commission (UKDPC).

“Some have argued that the stigma attached to problem drug users prevents others from taking drugs by example and that the shame of stigma pushes users into treatment. However, attempts to scare young people away from drug use have not proved effective,” wrote author Charlie Lloyd of the University of York in the report. “The evidence reviewed here suggests that stigma keeps users away from treatment.”

The Guardian noted that the report comes at a time when the British government is emphasizing abstinence. For example, the government recently proposed reducing the welfare benefits of individuals who do not seek treatment.  

The research review, “Sinning and Sinned Against: The Stigmatisation of Problem Drug Users,” (PDF) can be found on the UKDPC website.

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