Activity 19.3: Reflective practice

Make a list of all of the stereotypes, judgements and labels you can think of related to people who misuse drugs, even if they are not your own views.

You are likely to have included a wide range of terms including junkie, stoner, weak person, addict etc. What you are likely to find is that they are derogatory in nature, dehumanise and devalue the person and bring about expectations that the person is the problem and incapable of change. Language is powerful and an important factor in stereotypes and stigma.

Consider the impact this might have on the person as broadly as you can.

You may have included amongst others – poor self-esteem, self-isolation, shame, exclusion from society, reluctance to engage in treatment, open to exploitation and abuse.

Consider how you can challenge this stigma and discrimination in your everyday life and work, make a list.

Some ideas amongst others might include:

  • consider own language – speak positively and constructively
  • challenge language of others both professionally and in your private life – this does not have to be in a confrontational way – be informed
  • adopt a respectful approach when working with someone who is misusing drugs, seek to work in partnership to address issues arising from drug misuse
  • think about how people with drug misuse issues are welcomed and treated whilst in services, you may have considered changes here
  • look for opportunities to increase own knowledge, understanding, share with colleagues

Finally, consider what difference this might make to you, your colleagues and most importantly the person with a drug misuse problem.

You may have included amongst others ideas around;

It may help you and your colleagues have a more positive and enabling approach to working with people with substance misuse issues.

For the person it may increase their confidence and encourage them to stay engaged with services and address health issues.