A new report has been published which focuses on how current perceptions of drugs and people who use them have led to an unrealistic and stigmatising, rather than pragmatic and evidence-based approach to drug policy.
‘The world drug PERCEPTION problem – Countering prejudices about people who use drugs’ report, published by the Global Commission on Drug Policy and launched on the 9th of January, was presented by former world leaders, including Sir Nick Clegg, former UK Deputy Prime Minister.
The report confronts common perceptions and fears about drugs that form the background to repressive policies. In particular, it reviews the universal impulse behind the consumption of psychoactive substances, counters the negative portrayals of people who use drugs, and opposes the dominating narratives of crime and inevitable addiction that exist in many political discourses, in the media, and among the general public.
Clegg said, “Current drug policies are all too often based on perceptions and passionate beliefs, not facts. Any drug use carries risks, but only a small number of people who use drugs go on to face addiction or dependency. Those who do develop problems need our help, not the threat of criminal punishment.”
The Global Commission urges leaders to provide reliable and consistent information, and review the evidence for more effective policies. It encourages all citizens to take part in the debate, sustain activism and advocacy, and keep governments, parliaments, the police and the judiciary, the media, and healthcare and social professionals accountable.
Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Chair of the Global Commission said, “We need to end the stigmatisation of people who use drugs, as this leads to discrimination and supports repressive drugs laws based on moral judgment. Whether you think of someone and refer to them as a person who uses drugs or a “junkie” makes a huge difference in how you and society will treat them. This vicious cycle, which has been fueled for decades, must be broken. Opinion leaders should live up to their responsibility in shaping public perceptions on drugs, promoting non-discriminatory language, and respecting the full rights of all citizens.”