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UKDPC to look at stigma towards former drug users

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 UKDPC to look at stigma towards former drug users

The UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) has been awarded £60,450 from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation to investigate the scale of prejudice and stigma towards recovering drug users.

The study will examine the media’s portrayal of recovering drug users and the public’s attitude, along with the experiences and negative impact of stigma on drug users and their families.

The commission hopes that the research will motivate drug treat service providers and the government to remove the barriers that often prevent recovering drug users in rebuilding their lives.

The study will also address the issue of how the government and service providers measure the success of their methods of re-integrating recovering drug users back into society.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation consultation on ‘social evils’ in 2008 highlighted that drug misuse is regarded to be ‘very damaging’ to society as a strong link is perceived between drug misuse, anti-social behaviour and crime. Research by the UK Drug Policy Commission revealed that two-thirds of employers would not employ a former heroin or crack addict, even if they met the requirements needed to carry out the job.

The commission hopes to tackle the stigma and prejudice that recovering drug users face by to involving a wide range of drug treatment service users and their families, experts, practitioners and campaigners in the research, so to change the perception towards former users across all sectors and communities.

Roger Howard, Chief Executive of the UK Drug Policy Commission, said: “We hope our research will be the important first step in getting the evidence in place, to empower others later on to challenge stigma and prejudice towards recovering drug users. In the mental health, disability and other field’s solid evidence of stigma has provided the bedrock for subsequent campaigns for equality and inclusion.”

Liz Cadogan, Grants Officer for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation said: “There’s a huge need to increase awareness and understanding among the public and professionals about the stigma faced by recovering drug users. The shame and distress experienced by young people can make it hard for them to speak out. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is committed to helping marginalised young people have a voice and play a part in society.”

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