A- A A+

Language and stigma: terms used in the area of alcohol and other drugs. 

Chagas C, Paula TCS, Galduróz JCF. 

Epidemiol Serv Saude. 2021 Mar 19;30(1):e2020921. Portuguese, English. doi: 10.1590/S1679-49742021000100024. PMID: 33759908.


Death Penalty For Drug Offences: Global Overview 2020

Harm Reduction International 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 tenth 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. (Harm Reduction International, UK, 2021)


USA. Illinois Methadone Patients Could Be First to Have Privacy Rolled Back After SAMHSA Rule-Change

An Illinois Senator appears to be the first state lawmaker to push for a bill that would make a controversial federal rollback of opioid use disorder patients’ privacy rights mandatory at the state level. (Filter, USA, 29.03.2021)


Avoiding the stigma. A qualitative study of socially included women's experiences of drug use and dealing, health services and the police in France. 

Perrin S, Bertrand K, Langlois E. 

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Jan;87:102850. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102850. Epub 2020 Jul 19. PMID: 32665146.


Irland. Growing older and more stigmatised on methadone

In a compelling study from Dublin, Paula Mayock and Shane Butler (Trinity College) make the point that little is known about the stigma experienced by individuals attending drug treatment services over prolonged periods.  They explored this through the lived-experience narratives of 25 people prescribed long-term methadone. Their findings ‘reveal the intersection of stigma with age as profoundly shaping methadone patients’ perspectives on their lives’. (Recovery Review, 17.02.2021)


Saudi-Arabien. Saudi Arabia curbs death penalty in move to soften image

Saudi Arabia said Monday it had imposed a moratorium on capital punishment for drug-related offenses that led to an 85% reduction in executions, as the conservative Muslim kingdom seeks to soften its image to attract Western tourists and foreign investment. (IDPC, 28.01.2021)


Studying harm from others’ illicit drug use—can stigma really be avoided?. 

Ramstedt, M. (2021) 

Addiction, doi.org/10.1111/add.15332. 


COVID-19 During the Opioid Epidemic - Exacerbation of Stigma and Vulnerabilities. 

Jenkins WD, Bolinski R, Bresett J, Van Ham B, Fletcher S, Walters S, Friedman SR, Ezell JM, Pho M, Schneider J, Ouellet L. 

J Rural Health. 2021 Jan;37(1):172-174. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12442. Epub 2020 Jun 1. PMID: 32277731; PMCID: PMC7262104.


Kanada. Toronto doctor creates blueprint for reducing addiction stigma in the Muslim community

Series of seminars held inside GTA mosques tackle misconceptions, religious issues. (CBC, Kanada, 17.01.2021)



Human Rights Watch, Januar 2021


INCB. President of the International Narcotics Control Board Cornelis P. de Joncheere: 

Message on Human Rights Day 2020 

VIENNA, 10 December (United Nations Information Service) - The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has repeatedly expressed its concern over reports of grave human rights violations purportedly in furtherance of national drug control policies.

The Board reminds all States that the primary objective of the international drug control conventions is to safeguard the health and welfare of humankind, including respect for human rights. (INCB, Wien, UNIS/NAR/1427, 10.12.2020)


Nepal. The human rights of people who use drugs: Recommendations for the UPR of Nepal

According to a June 2020 survey commissioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, approximately 130,424 people in Nepal use drugs, of which 76.2% are below the age of 30.1 Over 63% of people who use drugs wanted to seek help, but few had access to any treatment facility, since people who use drugs are heavily stigmatized and criminalized in Nepal.

The Government has agreed to ensure that national drug policies fully respect human rights and fundamental freedom, as a UN member state during the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem in April 2016.3 But despite repeated calls from Nepalese civil society, the Narcotics Drug Control Act 2033 (1976) has not been revised in line with the obligations under international human rights treaties and the national constitution.

With the Drug Control Act of 2006 and the Drug Control Strategy of 2013, Nepal committed to place health and human rights at the center of its drug policies. However, the Drug Control Act 1976 has not been amended in line with these commitments, and evidence-based treatment is still sorely lacking across the country. (IDPC, UK, 30.12.2020)


Report to OHCHR on “human rights in the administration of justice”, pursuant to Resolution 42/11

Introduction: Harm Reduction International (HRI) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) welcome the opportunity to submit information to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the preparation of its report under Human Rights Council Resolution 42/11 on human rights in the administration of justice. This submission addresses some of the current and emerging challengesspecifically faced by people detained for drug offences and people in detention who use drugs. 

Background: Of the 11 million people currently behind bars worldwide, close to half a million people are incarcerated for mere drug possession, with an additional 1.7 million incarcerated for other non-violent drug offences,).1 That means that about 21% - or over one in every five prisoners worldwide -are being held on a drug charge. Punitive drug laws have fuelled mass incarceration and have impacted marginalised communities disproportionately, often on the basis of race, ethnicity, and/or poverty.2 (Harm Reduction International and Drug Policy Consortium, UK, 11.01.2021)


A Community-Based Investigation of Stigma Toward Individuals Receiving Methadone Maintenance Treatment in China: A Randomized Case Vignette Study. 

Deng Q, Hu M, Yu F, Liu Q, Hao W, Wu Q, Luo T. 

Front Psychiatry. 2020 Nov 25;11:601266. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.601266. PMID: 33324264; PMCID: PMC7723969.


Creating an ethical culture to support recovery from substance use disorders. 

Williamson L. 

J Med Ethics. 2020 Nov 11:medethics-2020-106661. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2020-106661. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33177147.


Proposal of a scale for COVID-19 stigma-discrimination toward health workers. 

Campo-Arias A, Álvarez-Solorza I, Tirado-Otálvaro AF, Cassiani-Miranda CA. 

J Investig Med. 2020 Nov 26:jim-2020-001647. doi: 10.1136/jim-2020-001647. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33243823; PMCID: PMC7692020.


Prevalence and Associated Factors of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Stigma among Health Care Workers in Contact with COVID-19 Patients. 

Zandifar A, Badrfam R, Mohammadian Khonsari N, Mohammadi MR, Asayesh H, Qorbani M. 

Iran J Psychiatry. 2020 Oct;15(4):340-350. doi: 10.18502/ijps.v15i4.4303. PMID: 33240384; PMCID: PMC7610075.


Stress and Stigmatization in Health-Care Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

GV, Makarevich OV, Neznanov NG, Morozov PV, Lutova NB, Mazo GE.  

Indian J Psychiatry. 2020 Sep;62(Suppl 3):S445-S453. doi: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_870_20. Epub 2020 Sep 28. PMID: 33227056; PMCID: PMC7659791.


Social Stigmatization of Drug Abusers in a Developing Country: A Cross-Sectional Study. 

Khalid F, Jaan A, Aslam MMS, Ahmed Z, Raheem A, Bodla ZH, Basit A, Hussain B, Iftikhar A, Tayyeb M, Khalid A, Rehman U. 

Cureus. 2020 Sep 26;12(9):e10661. doi: 10.7759/cureus.10661. PMID: 33133831; PMCID: PMC7586416.


“You Are Now Entering a Guilt-free Zone”

D. Robin Taylor, M.D., D.Sc.

N Engl J Med 2020; 383:2103-2105, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2003459


Ukraine. Targets (Video)

The film ‘Targets’ is a story about the women in Ukraine who are branded as “drug addicts” and who are being destroyed by the state today. These women are targets, and a real war is being waged against them. The film is an attempt to understand why this is happening and what needs to be done to stop these deaths.

On the one hand, the state finances a program of substitution maintenance therapy (SMT), which is a method of treating drug addiction with proven effectiveness. Many women in Ukraine receive this therapy. This gives them the opportunity to restore health and social ties, find work, devote time to family and children, etc.

However, on the other hand, as soon as a woman begins to receive this treatment, she is immediately diagnosed with drug addiction. At this moment, as a result of being given this status, she loses all her rights. In practice, this is very often used by social services, which can take children from such women and deprive them of parental rights. Such mothers are forcibly separated from their children. Babies who could live with a loving mother end up in shelters. Social and other services act in such cases based on discriminatory and outdated norms of Ukrainian legislation. (Drug Reporter, Ungarn, 28:45, engl. UT)


USA. Stop the Stigma. Tackling the Stigma of Addiction through Education - a disease not a moral failing.

Stigma refers to when individuals are discriminated against, devalued, rejected or excluded as a result of belonging to a particular group. Addiction-related stigma prevents people who are struggling from reaching out for help and isolates families affected by addiction who fear being judged by their communities.  In 2018, 16 percent of individuals with a SUD did not seek treatment because they worried that it would have a negative impact on their employment; and approximately 15 percent felt it would impact their community’s view of them.

Fear and misunderstanding often lead to prejudice against people with substance use disorders, even among healthcare providers. It's also one of the main reasons people don't consider addiction a real health issue. These prejudices and biases leads to feelings of shame in those struggling and creates serious barriers to diagnosis and treatment.


Announcing the Lancet Commission on stigma and discrimination in mental health 

Graham Thornicroft, Charlene Sunkel 

The Lancet, Volume 0, Issue 0


The Role of Stigma in the Nursing Care of Families Impacted by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. 

Recto P, McGlothen-Bell K, McGrath J, Brownell E, Cleveland LM. 

Adv Neonatal Care. 2020 Oct;20(5):354-363. doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000778. PMID: 32868585; PMCID: PMC7467149.


Some notes on the use, concept and socio-political framing of 'stigma' focusing on an opioid-related public health crisis.

Fischer B.

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2020 Aug 3;15(1):54. doi: 10.1186/s13011-020-00294-2. PMID: 32746871; PMCID: PMC7396940.


Stigma of Opioid Use Disorder and Its Indirect Effects on Student Pharmacists' Perceptions and Attitudes. 

Hall EA, Cernasev A, Nasritdinova U, Veve MP, Hohmeier KC. 

Pharmacy (Basel). 2020 Aug 14;8(3):144. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy8030144. PMID: 32823836; PMCID: PMC7559077.


Malaysia. Malaysian man has death sentence quashed as judgment in Singapore makes judicial history

On Monday, judicial history was made in Singapore when the death sentence imposed on Malaysian national, Gobi a/l Avedian, for importing class A drugs was overturned.  He is the first person in known history to have had a death sentence overturned on a review by the Singapore Court of Appeal after exhausting all the usual avenue of appeals.

Gobi had initially been acquitted of the capital charge at trial in June 2017 when the trial judge accepted that he did not know at the time that the drug he was importing was heroin. However, the Attorney General’s Chambers appealed, and Gobi was convicted and sentenced to death by the Court of Appeal in October 2018. (The Death Penalty Project, UK, 23.10.2020)


Schottland. Stigma matters.

Themenseite des SDF – Scottish Drugs Forum, September 2020


Schottland. Relationship between language, power and stigma explored in new resource

SDF have published a glossary of contested terms that describes the issues around some language and key concepts that often cause contention and some that evolve from or perpetuate stigma and the prejudice it fosters.

Moving Beyond People First Language – A glossary of contested terms in drug use

SDF – Scottish Drugs Forum, Oktober 2020


Schottland. Moving Beyond ‘People First Language’ – a glossary of contested terms in substance use 

The Glossary supports a consensus on some key concepts and terms in substance use by defining and explaining the cause and nature of contention and suggesting better practice in terms of the language choices we make.  The central aim is to improve understanding and address the stigma betrayed in some common terms and concepts current within the field. (Scottish Drugs Forum, Oktober 2020)