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Respectful, Friendly, and Non-Judgemental Language plus Attitude Key in Treatment of Individuals Recovering from Drug Abuse.

By Maawiya Mohammed.

Ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is pushing a campaign where the aim is to raise awareness of the importance of treating people who have an addiction to drugs with respect and empathy. The campaign aims to combat stigma and discrimination toward people recovering or trying to recover from drug use. The office (UNODC) has said that everyone deserves love, safety, and compassion and I could never be more in sync with them.

So, what is stigma and how does it happen to people affected by drugs? Well, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), stigma refers to the negative association between a person or group of people who share certain characteristics and a specific disease.

Scott Stevens in his book “Adding Fire to The Fuel; Challenging Shame and the Stigma of Alcoholism” paints a good picture of how stigma and discrimination towards people who struggle with the use of drugs. He says those who have not lived a single day of their lives challenged by alcohol and drugs face two paths; the uphill one or the easy one. The uphill one consists of taking a step back and trying to help the individual to get better. On the other hand, the easy path consists of discrediting the people affected by drugs and adopting of a foul attitude and language towards them. This easy path has negative effects on one’s interactions with drugs affected individuals.

This easy path is where dishonouring words come in. Names such as ‘junkie’, ‘crackhead’, ‘zombie’, ‘fiend’, and ‘addict’ are some of the demeaning words used to refer to the individuals. This is utterly unacceptable and we should desist from using such words when referring to individuals caught in drug situations. We should use more friendly language and attitude when addressing them so as to help them in recovering.
Additionally, we should help build up their confidence by constantly encouraging them to fight back and take control of their lives. It is through love, compassion, and guidance that we can help our brothers and sister caught up in the webs of drug addiction.