Facing the facts
It’s time to challenge stigmatising language on social media
Back in 2010, the UK Drug Policy Commission analysed newspaper coverage and produced a report, Representations of Drug use and drug users in the British Press. It highlighted negative reporting, condemnatory attitudes and pejorative labelling, and contributed to some valuable work around stigma, including the guide for journalists that the UKDPC’s former CEO Roger Howard mentions in his piece on page 14.
Since then, the presence of social media has been a complete game changer. As James Armstrong explores in our cover story (page 6), online stigma can all too often ‘go viral’ with the coveted social media reward of getting attention. While we can’t control the internet, what we can do is encourage those with first-hand experience to tell their stories, breaking down the polarisation of ‘us and them’.
The internet is shaping every area of our work and Kevin Flemen gives invaluable insight to what’s happening on the ‘darknet’. International policing operations may be enjoying successes in closing down online market places – but have we thought about the impact on the UK drugs scene? Are such operations feeding customers to dealer networks and county lines gangs? And, crucially, will the quality of drugs suffer, with all the implications for compromised safety?
We hope you have a good summer as we go into the break – the new issue will be out on 9 September. In the meantime keep in touch with your contributions and feedback – we’ll be here!