Stigma towards current and former drug users and their families can cause considerable distress and may present a ‘hidden’ barrier to accessing help and achieving recovery from drug problems. Therefore, UKDPC has undertaken a programme of research to investigate the extent and nature of stigma towards people with a history of drug problems and their families in the UK.
This research highlights the importance of tackling stigma if people with drug problems and their families are to be able to access the support they need to overcome these problems. There is a need to challenge the entrenched and widespread assumption that drug users are solely culpable for their condition by educating people at all levels in society – including health professionals and the media – about the causes and nature of addiction.
Stigma, by making assumptions about individuals and denying the possibility of change, works against government policy by putting barriers in the way of recovery. If we are serious about recovery, we need to be serious about tackling stigma.
This report summarises what the research evidence has to tell us about the stigmatisation of problem drug users.