Drug Deaths Taskforce response: cross government approach

Cross government response to the Drug Deaths Taskforce report, Changing Lives. It contains a cross government action plan, response to Taskforce recommendations and a stigma action plan.

23. Introduction

In June 2020, the Drug Deaths Taskforce published 'A Strategy to Address the Stigmatisation of People and Communities Affected by Drug Use'[65] with the aim of achieving a more informed and compassionate approach across society toward people with lived experience of problem substance use and their families. This led to the development of the Stigma Charter[66], which was published in November 2021 asking organisations to show a commitment to creating a stigma-free Scotland by following the principles of the Charter.

The principles of the Stigma Charter

  • treating people with dignity and respect when using any services and in line with a trauma informed approach
  • supporting people in recovery and their families to create a culture of mutual respect and support in their local community, wider area and nationally
  • promoting the use of positive language when speaking with, or about people in active substance use or recovery and their families
  • challenging the image and attitude portrayed of people who use or have used substances, or their families, through work with media partners to develop policies and proactive campaigns

The publication of the Charter aligned with a multi-channel campaign, which ran over the winter of 2021/22 to challenge drug and alcohol stigma.[67] The evaluation of this campaign was completed shortly before the Drug Deaths Taskforce published its final report 'Changing Lives'[68] which called for a significant culture change in how we design policies to support people affected by problem drug use and how we ensure they are treated with dignity and respect in all areas of life.

In developing this response to the Taskforce recommendation, a wealth of information was considered, including the Taskforce Stigma Strategy, final report 'Changing Lives' and the evaluation of our media campaign, to develop this first step in an ambitious approach to tackling stigma experienced by people affected by problem substance use.

In addition, this plan will build on and learn from initiatives underway by partners and stakeholders who have been working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of stigma wherever they have found it. It will complement the work of the National Collaborative whose role it is to empower the voices of people who use drugs to demand a human rights-based approach and will strengthen the capacity of the Scottish Government to achieve its national mission to reduce drug related death and improve lives.


Email: Drugsmissiondeliveryteam@gov.scot

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