DDN December 2021 December 2021 - Page 11

LETTERS AND COMMENT

CLERO

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !

The sector must unite to challenge stigma , says Tim Sampey

In 2010 the United Kingdom Drug Policy Commission published a report on the stigmatisation of drugs users , and finished by stating , ‘ if society is serious about supporting recovery from drug problems it has to get serious about challenging stigma .’ It doesn ’ t feel as if we have got far , does it ?

It seems as if there has never been a concerted attempt to challenge the way wider society views people with substance use disorders , and as Mother Teresa predicted , we have become the lepers of the twenty-first century – shunned , excluded and unwanted .
A quick scan back over the past decade offers us hope that a united front built around a worthy moral cause can force a gradual systemic change . At last , individuals with mental health disorders are viewed as more than ‘ the nutter on the bus ’. Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movements have shown us that a mirror can be held up to wider society , demanding that they do better and recognise the essential truth in the adage ‘ do unto to others as you would have them do unto you ’.
Working With Everyone were recently commissioned by the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance ( APA ) to hold a series of workshops looking at the lived experience of stigma among people who use drugs . Stories of the way in which the participants were treated by the wider health system , including GPs , mental health services and hospitals , were depressingly familiar in their negativity and in several instances genuinely
shocking , making a nonsense of the idea of integrated care systems . How can there be an integrated care system in England if a large part of that system regards us either as not their problem or unworthy of support ?
It seems as if there has never been a concerted attempt to challenge the way wider society views people with substance use disorders .
It is time the sector united around the persistent and endemic stigmatisation of those who struggle with their substance use and took the battle into society , the press , and the corridors of power . We need to remind them that we are mothers and fathers , sons , and daughters , and that we are as deserving of our place in the sun as they .
LEROs can and must play a central part in this . After all , there is not one of us who has not been on the receiving end of stigmatisation repeatedly . It is time we joined hands with the rest of the sector , and held up the mirror , stating ‘ enough really is enough ’.
Tim Sampey is chief executive of Build on Belief , writing as a member of the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations ( CLERO )
I took a moment to have a quick look through the DDN back issues on the website and found literally hundreds of articles all of which outlined the damage that stigma had caused .
STIGMA SPIRAL
I have been a DDN reader for many years and was saddened when I opened the last issue to see the cover story on being trapped by stigma ( DDN , Nov , p6 ).
It ’ s not that the article wasn ’ t interesting or challenging , it ’ s just the fact that this is still such a major issue and holds so many people back from getting the help that they need .
I took a moment to have a quick look through the DDN back issues on the website and found literally hundreds of articles all of which outlined the damage that stigma had caused .
You would have hoped by now that the message would have gotten through that stigmatising language and behaviour is unacceptable and does not help .
I know that there is a lot of fantastic work going on to challenge stigma and I would like to thank DDN for their ongoing work covering this – I just wish that they didn ’ t have to ! Sue Jenkins , by email
HELP GUIDES WANTED
I used to have a cannabis and drink problem in the ’ 80s and ’ 90s but managed to get this under control in the mid- ’ 90s . Could anyone direct me towards a drink safe guide and some facts on cannabis ?. David D , HMP Durham ( Please email suggestions to the editor and we can send on information by post .)
VITAL MOMENT
I was very interested in the idea of ‘ a treatable moment ’ ( DDN , Nov , p16 ) and I wish this idea would take hold . I am exhausted with trying get help for my son and am petrified that one day it will be too late . I don ’ t want it to be a trip to A & E that makes professionals see him as a priority – I want our GP surgery to understand that he needs help now . I wish Dr Brinksman was our GP . Mrs S Bell , by email
DDN welcomes all your comments . Please email the editor , claire @ cjwellings . com , join any of the conversations on our Facebook page , or send letters to DDN , CJ Wellings Ltd , Romney House , School Road , Ashford , Kent TN27 0LT . Longer comments and letters may be edited for space or clarity .
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