What We Can Do
“They don’t see us as people… I was called a junkie in front of my children”
There are five simple things we can do now to help stop the stigma.
1. Start by changing our language.
As a first step, we can stop using the offensive word “junkie”. We can name check all the other words that are used – often without thinking – to label, reject and put down people who use drugs.
2. Challenge stigma in the delivery of services
People who use drugs can often experience stigma in the public services they so desperately need. Education and training programmes, developed in collaboration with health care and frontline staff, could transform this.
3. Support strong Community Drug Programmes
Strong and well-resourced Community Drug Projects and services are the best supports for people who use drugs, their families and communities.
4. Understand more about the complexity of addiction
We can encourage and support our political leaders to lead by example on this issue to ensure that public conversation is then informed by greater knowledge and understanding of addiction. Knowledge breaks down the fear and blame of people who use drugs.
5. End the criminalisation of people who use drugs.
We can view and treat addiction as a health issue, not a crime. We can support the work of the Working Group on Alternative Approaches so that it can implement the recommendation of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality to deal with possession of drugs for personal use through a harm-reducing and rehabilitative approach.