A new national campaign to address the stigma around substance use has been launched by the Scottish Government.
The campaign, which coincides with the publication of the UK government’s new drug strategy, is designed to highlight the ‘damage caused by the stigma of problem drug and alcohol use’.
The campaign will emphasise that substance use is ‘a health condition’ and include TV and newspaper adverts as well as billboards, supported by a webpage on NHS Inform. The aim is to make it easier for people to ask for help, says the Scottish Government, and emphasise that judging people can have a ‘devastating effect’ on their ability to seek and access support,
‘This is a hard-hitting national campaign which encourages people to see the personal story behind the stereotype,’ said drugs policy minister Angela Constance. ‘Stigma is damaging not only to the individual in terms of their mental health and sense of self-worth, but it also discourages them from coming forward to get the help they need. It also impacts on friends and family members. We must remember that people with a substance use problem are family members, neighbours, friends and colleagues. By addressing stigma, and the silence and alienation it causes, we make it easier for people to seek help and that is to the benefit of each and every one of us.’
‘We are acutely aware that stigma and shame are major reasons for people not or delaying seeking help,’ added executive director of We Are With You Scotland, Andrew Horne. ‘This hard-hitting national campaign challenges our view that people with drug and alcohol problems are different. This is not true. In Scotland, drug and alcohol issues are sadly very common and can affect anyone. People experiencing problems shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed as we know that stands in the way of people getting the help they need.’