SDF commits to continuing work on stigma and launches resource to broaden consensus

Today, Scottish Drugs Forum contextualises our work around stigma and commits to ensuring anti-stigma activity remains a key cross-cutting theme of our work.

David Liddell CEO of Scottish Drugs Forum says “Stigma remains a significant barrier to improving Scotland’s response to problem substance use. In our work with stakeholders across the substance use field and beyond, SDF identifies and challenges stigma.”

Today we focus on this seemingly intractable issue and re-focus on addressing stigma through all of our activity.  SDF runs anti-stigma training and has trained hundreds of frontline staff to identify and challenge stigma; reconsider their own attitudes and behaviour in terms of their practice and consider how their own organisations may perpetuate or reduce the stigma borne by people with a substance use problem.

But our stigma work goes beyond that, of course.  The Addiction Worker Training Project and the peer research activity are, in themselves, challenges to stigmatising views about the contribution, role and potential of people who have a substance use problem.

You can read SDF’s statement on stigma and about some of our activity by visiting our stigma and substance use webpage.

Today, SDF also launches a new resource Moving Beyond ‘People-First’ Language: A glossary of contested terms in substance use.  This resource describes the issues around some language and key concepts that often cause contention and some that evolve from or perpetuate stigma and the prejudice it fosters.

Austin Smith, SDF Policy Officer, is keen that people are aware of the issues around language.

“The national strategy, Rights, Respect and Recovery, reflects a consensus that we should be using ‘people-first’ language… but there are much wider and deeper issues.  This goes beyond political correctness.  Of course, people should avoid causing offence, but we need to move beyond people first language.  This is about the most fundamental issue – the value of human life, the rights of people to contribute and to seek and receive support.  If we allow people to be marginalised, excluded, dismissed and eventually dehumanised then we are not only accepting that their situation cannot be improved but we are ensuring that that is the case.”

The glossary offers people a resource that makes explicit the connection between language and power. The resource will hopefully raise awareness of how power and language can contribute to problem substance use and can also help Scotland improve its response to problem substance use.

“I will be more than pleased to receive feedback and suggestions for content as we update this resource keep track of how language develops in the future.”

You can download Moving Beyond ‘People-First’ Language: A glossary of contested terms in substance use by clicking here.

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