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.

27. Our action plan

The Stigma Action Plan does not start from a blank page. We will continue to build on ongoing initiatives to tackle stigma such as training and advocacy and learn from the experience and expertise already gained in this area. All the additional elements listed here are built on insights of people with lived and living experience and will be further co-produced with people with lived, living and family experience ensuring that the plan is targeted and focussed appropriately

Tackling the stigma of substance dependency is everyone's responsibility and this will form the foundation of our approach. The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland agree that it is in all our interests to support people affected by substance dependency.[71] Through the actions outlined in this plan we will support individuals and organisations to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and learning and to take practical steps towards a stigma-free Scotland.

We ask everyone to consider their choice of language, what beliefs and assumptions they may hold and to treat people affected by substance dependency with dignity and respect; to speak out against stigma and poor treatment when they see it to be open to opportunities to engage with people within their communities who are affected problem by substance use.

27.1 Scottish Government leading by example

Scottish Government will lead by example by interrogating our internal policies and removing barriers for people affected by substance dependency as well as taking forward our commitment to developing a trauma informed workforce.

Key action: We will review our corporate policies to ensure our commitment to tackle stigma in this area is consistent with our commitment to be an inclusive and supportive employer.

Key Action: We will implement the Cross Government Plan that will ensure that problem substance use is treated as a health condition consistently and coherently across Government led services.

27.2 Accreditation scheme

There is a need for broader structural change. These changes should remove barriers to access that are rooted in stigma and prejudice and provide reasonable adjustments to support fair access to services. To support this, we will develop and implement an accreditation scheme which will include commitments to take defined and measurable actions to challenge and remove structural stigma. This will also provide a route for service users to challenge stigma and discrimination within participating services.

The media play a significant role in how people encounter substance use and can shape and influence public attitudes. The accreditation scheme will include working with media organisations to understand how they could play a positive role in challenging stigma and presenting a less stigmatising view of people affected by problem substance use.

Key action: We will coproduce the specifications for an accreditation scheme and commission its delivery from the third sector and the community of people with lived and living experience.

27.3 National programme to tackle social stigma

To target social stigma we will develop and implement a national programme of work using evidence on what is most effective in challenging negative and damaging assumptions in the long term.[72] This programme will include a variety of methods and be targeted to meet the needs of the audience and challenge specific beliefs that may not be based on fact and evidence.

Key action: This year we will coproduce interventions to tackle social stigma and commission the set up and delivery of a national programme from the third sector.


Email: Drugsmissiondeliveryteam@gov.scot

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