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Stigma during the COVID-19 pandemic

Bagcchi, Sanjeet

The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 20, Issue 7, 782 


USA. Even with private insurance, black overdose patients are half as likely as whites to get addiction treatment, Penn study finds

Opioid overdose patients with private insurance are rarely connected to addiction treatment after visiting the emergency department, a new national study from the University of Pennsylvania has found.

And the problem is particularly severe among black and Hispanic patients, more evidence of deep racial disparities in health care generally and addiction treatment in particular. (The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA, 27.05.2020)


Assessment of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Use of Medication to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Among Pregnant Women in Massachusetts.

Schiff DM, Nielsen T, Hoeppner BB, et al. 

JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(5):e205734. Published 2020 May 1. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.5734


No Time Like The Present: The BASIS Special Series on Race and Addiction

We are privileged to have The BASIS as a worldwide platform for our thoughts and to highlight important research that clarifies the devastating impacts of racism. Because there is no time like the present to start anti-racism work, this month we will feature a special series on race and addiction, addressing addiction-related discrimination, social determinants of health, health equity, and race. (Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Juni 2020)


Racism and Policing Are Global Problems. Drug Control is a Vehicle.

There is now substantial evidence that the war on drugs has disproportionately targeted Black and Brown communities in the US, resulting in profound racial injustice. For decades, politicians in the US have used fear and misinformation to perpetuate racist stereotypes and link Black and Brown people to drug offences, creating irreparable harm to individuals and communities. Nearly half of the people in US federal prisons serving sentences for drug offences are Black and almost 60 percent are Latino. This doesn’t include those in state prisons and local jails, where the disproportionate impact on communities is even clearer. (Talking Drugs, UK, 04.06.2020)



Unter ethnischem Profiling sind selektive ordnungsbehördliche Kontrollen zu verstehen, die aufgrund von Kriterien wie Ethnizität, Rasse, Religion und nationaler Herkunft, nicht jedoch aufgrund des persönlichen Verhaltens bzw. objektiver Indizien vorgenommen werden. (Open Society Foundations, Justice Initiative, 2020)


Singapur. Malaysian man sentenced to death in Singapore via Zoom call

Punithan Genasan, a 37-year-old Malaysian, received the sentence for his role in a 2011 heroin transaction. (Al Jazeera, Katar, 20.05.2020)


Stigma and the Toll of Addiction

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., April 2, 2020
N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1289-1290, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1917360


Stigmatising attitudes towards people who inject drugs, and people living with blood borne viruses or sexually transmissible infections in a representative sample of the Australian population.

Broady TR, Brener L, Cama E, Hopwood M, Treloar C (2020) 

PLoS ONE 15(4): e0232218. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0232218


Association of Racial/Ethnic Segregation With Treatment Capacity for Opioid Use Disorder in Counties in the United States.

Goedel WC, Shapiro A, Cerdá M, Tsai JW, Hadland SE, Marshall BDL.

JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Apr 1;3(4):e203711. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.3711.


Addressing the Stigma that Surrounds Addiction

Untreated drug and alcohol use contribute to tens of thousands of deaths every year and impact the lives of many more. Healthcare already has effective tools including medications for opioid and alcohol use disorder that could prevent many of these deaths, but they are not being utilized widely enough, and many people who could benefit do not even seek them out. One important reason is the stigma that surrounds people with addiction. (NIDA, Noras’s blog, USA, 22.04.2020)


Language and stigmatization of individuals with mental illness or substance addiction in the Netherlands: An experimental vignette study. 

Martinelli, TF, Meerkerk, G‐J, Nagelhout, GE, et al.

Health Soc Care Community. 2020; 00: 1– 10. doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12973


The Real Harms of Abusive, Stigmatizing Language in Addiction Treatment

(Filter, USA, 11.03.2020)


The Death Penalty for Drug Offences 2019

Harm Reduction International (HRI) has monitored the use of the death penalty for drug offences worldwide since our first ground-breaking publication on this issue in 2007. This report, our ninth on the subject, continues our work of providing regular updates on legislative, policy and practical developments related to the use of capital punishment for drug offences, a practice which is a clear violation of international law. (HRI – Harm Reduction International, März 2020)


Worldwide, Executions for Drug-Law Violations Are Increasing Again

(…) Executions for drug-law violations are increasing globally, says a new report from Harm Reduction International (HRI). Since 2007, the organization has tracked worldwide drug-related executions, which peaked at 755 in 2015. Though executions declined to a record-low 93 in 2018, last year they increased about 31 percent, to 122. At least 3,000 people sentenced to death for drug offenses remain on death row, many of whom have been there for more than 10 years. (Filter, USA, 05.02.2020)


Interaction effects in the association between methadone maintenance therapy and experiences of racial discrimination in U.S. healthcare settings.

Pro G, Zaller N (2020) 

PLoS ONE 15(2): e0228755. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228755


Recognizing Stigma Embedded in Diagnostic Criteria for Substance Use Disorders

Tanya Freedland

BASIS – The Brief Addiction Science Information Source, Harvard Medical School,USA, 19.02.2020


Afghanistan. Nine homeless drug users shot dead in Afghan capital: Police

Unidentified gunmen killed drug users while they were sleeping in an open area near Kabul's Qargha mountain. (Al Jazeera, Katar, 16.02.2020)


UK. The Jamaica Deportations Reveal the Racial Injustice of the UK's Drug Laws

Rhetorically, drug policy is objective and indiscriminate. Practically, it is quite the opposite. As the recent deportations over minor drug offences make clear, the drug war produces profoundly different outcomes depending on race.

Last week, 17 people were deported to Jamaica by the Government for being “serious foreign national offenders”. The Home Office has refused to release a breakdown of the crimes they committed, but at least four of those on board were condemned to a life away from their family and friends for minor drug convictions. (TalkingDrugs, UK, 24.02.2020)


Kanada. Anti-stigma campaign addresses addiction, teaches students mental-health literacy

The student-run campaign uses social media to break down the science behind addiction and share personal stories of people affected by it. (University Affairs, Kanada, 10.02.2020)


UNODC. Inclusion, not exclusion: UNODC addresses stigma around substance use

Vienna (Austria). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the support of the Government of Canada, convened 50 experts from 25 countries and 5 international organisations from 14 to 16 January to contribute their expertise and experience to an initiative on how to address stigma around substance use. (UNODC, 20.02.2020)


Bahrain. Over 100 human rights groups urge the UN to intervene to stop executions of drug offenders in Bahrain

LONDON. Harm Reduction International, the International Drug Policy Consortium and the International Network of People Who Use Drugs published open letters today calling on the United Nations’ major human rights and drug control bodies to take all necessary actions to prevent the executions of two individuals convicted of drug trafficking in Bahrain. They were joined by 137 groups from 55 countries, including the International Commission of Jurists and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

On 28 January 2020, Bahrain’s highest court upheld the death sentences of two Bahraini men convicted of drug trafficking and smuggling, who are now believed to be at imminent risk of execution. In July 2019, Bahrain executed three men who were sentenced in flawed proceedings, drawing widespread international condemnation. (IDPC - International Drug Policy Consortium, UK, 03.02.2020)


Just Say No to Shame

Many people know the story of the drunkard from Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, who drinks because he is ashamed, and is ashamed because he drinks. This article is about how ancient wisdom and modern science teach us to avoid shaming as a tool to change people. (Drug Reporter, Ungarn, 06.02.2020)


Opioid Addiction Stigma: The Intersection of Race, Social Class, and Gender.

Wood E, Elliott M.

Subst Use Misuse. 2019 Dec 23:1-10. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2019.1703750. 



Quality Of Life And Stigma Among People Living With HIV/AIDS In Iran.

Ebrahimi Kalan M, Han J, Ben Taleb Z, Fennie KP, Asghari Jafarabadi M, Dastoorpoor M, Hajhashemi N, Naseh M, Rimaz S.

HIV AIDS (Auckl). 2019 Nov 12;11:287-298. doi: 10.2147/HIV.S221512. 


Iran. Iran executes 'Crocodile of the Gulf' drug kingpin

Iran has executed a drug kingpin nicknamed the "Crocodile of the Persian Gulf" and dismantled his smuggling ring, state media report. (BBC, 25.01.2020)


Psychological distress mediated the effects of self-stigma on quality of life in opioid-dependent individuals: A cross-sectional study.

Chang K-C, Lin C-Y, Chang C-C, Ting S-Y, Cheng C-M, Wang J-D (2019) 

PLoS ONE 14(2): e0211033. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211033


Malaysia. Malaysia urges neighbours to review execution of drug mules, says users need hospitals, not prisons

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — Having halted the mandatory death sentence on drug-related convictions, the Malaysian government is asking other countries to do the same.

De facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said governments needed to review their laws that provide for the execution of drug traffickers to discern between the masterminds and those being used to deliver the illicit substances.

“There are far-reaching implications of this, and mainly, if you are a drug addict or abuser, you need medical treatment and not imprisonment,” Liew told reporters after attending the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s commemoration of the International Human Rights Day at the Sheraton Hotel here. (malaymail.com, Malaysia, 10.12.2019)


China. The China Drug, Crime and Detention Database - 中国毒品、犯罪和拘留数据库

The China Drug, Crime and Detention Database Project is the first open access quantitative database focused on Chinese government drug policy and the country's justice system. It is an open access resource for researchers, advocates, journalists and organisations engaged in the study of drug policy, criminal justice, policing and detention in China. (LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, Dezember 2019)


Stigma, politics, and an epidemic: HIV in the Philippines

Devi, Sharmila

The Lancet, Volume 394, Issue 10215, 2139 - 2140