DDN April 2021 Aprl 2021 | Page 12

STIGMA frontline treatment staff make people aware of a treatment option that isn ’ t funded ? The ‘ no demand ’ argument places the blame firmly on the people seeking treatment . It sounds like a simple statement , it passes in conversation as if it offers some form of insight , but it is just blatant victim blaming .


At Phoenix Futures we have been thinking a lot about stigma , rights and treatment access , and we hope these will be key themes in Dame Carole Black ’ s forthcoming review . There is a sense that we could be on the verge of a period of positive change . But that change can only be maintained if we reflect on some key underlying structural and societal considerations .

Phoenix have been highly vocal on the issues of access to detox and residential services . Over 50 per cent of English local authorities refer fewer than five people a year to rehab , and there is zero access in more and more local authority areas . We know the ‘ postcode lottery ’ is unfair , but in some parts of the country there is total exclusion from NICE-approved , clinical guidelinerecommended treatment .
We are optimistic that the coming year will see a strong upturn in the number of rehab placements across the country , made possible by the government ’ s commitment to invest a further £ 80m in drug services in addition to the existing budgets available
Stigmatising language doesn ’ t have to be obvious to do harm , says Liam Ward
to each local authority . The sector has received this news favourably on the whole , but there is a collective appreciation that this represents a good start rather than a solution . The funding falls far short of the £ 900m across three years reportedly recommended by Dame Carol Black , and represents only half of the £ 160m cut from drug treatment services in the last decade ( DDN , February , page 4 ).
The spending review in which the new funding was announced took the cautious approach of outlining the spending for just one year in light of the ongoing pandemic . It is hoped that a more robust commitment over a prolonged period will follow to give the sector some security when putting long-term plans in place .
REHAB CAN BE FUN DESPITE BEING TOUGH Behind the stigmatising views that often exist lie groups of happy , positive and motivated people working hard and committed to overcoming a multitude of problems . Photos courtesy of Phoenix Wirral residential rehab .
There is , rightly , a focus on stigmatising language in the sector . Language frames the way we think , and while non-judgemental language is important to reduce stigma , it ’ s equally important that we consider the subtle use of language that disempowers , judges and marginalises the people who use our services . Here are some of the common arguments we hear to justify the de-funding of residential services :
THERE ’ S NO DEMAND This simply isn ’ t true . When we speak to people desperate for rehab , we ’ re told they have had to ‘ fight ’ and ‘ beg ’ to even be considered for a placement . We know the lack of demand is due to lack of awareness , and that is understandable – why would
REHAB ’ S TOO EXPENSIVE People with multiple needs require more comprehensive treatment – this is true in almost all forms of healthcare . The ‘ too expensive ’ argument is nothing more than a moral judgement and the subtle implication is that some people are worth more than others .
WE CAN ’ T PUT EVERYONE IN REHAB This is one we hear often , and often where there is no suggestion that rehab is for everyone . Behind it is a classic use of passive language that creates an image of people waiting to be put somewhere , like pieces on a chess board .
REHAB IS NOT RIGHT FOR SOME PEOPLE The UK clinical drug treatment guidelines make it clear who rehab is most likely to be suitable for , and this statement deflects from the reality of rehab being underutilised by subtly implying that the treatment on offer would be ineffective for those who miss out anyway .
REHAB PROVIDERS SHOULD DO MORE TO MARKET THEIR SERVICES TO FUNDERS A seemingly innocuous statement , but behind it is the implication that