Taskforce Condemns Unacceptable Stigmatising Language and Derogatory Tone of News Reportage.

01 January, 0001

In a joint statement, The Drug Deaths Taskforce responded to the Mail on Sunday coverage of Sunday 11th July, following the meeting of the Taskforce on 28th July.


Addressing drug-related deaths and the personal tragedy that each and every drug-related death in Scotland represents is one of the most difficult challenges in social policy. Causes and solutions are complex and multi-faceted, and yet at the heart of the challenge are real people at real risk.

The evidence is clear that the stigma surrounding the problems of people who use drugs, and the stigmatising language and harmfully judgemental attitudes that form it, can only deter those who need it most from engaging in the services that can help.

The Taskforce and its volunteers will continue to develop an evidence-based response, and to make its work and progress transparent (https://drugdeathstaskforce.scot/) to all stakeholders. It condemns without reserve the examples of stigmatising language, derogatory tone and wholly subjective judgement presented by the article, whether they be ‘junkies’ or ‘addicts’ undeserving of the help being offered via a particular project, or those ‘middle class’ and/or ‘naïve’ people suggesting it.

Real people being at real risk can lead to the impassioned pursuit of particular agendas. This, in itself, is not harmful. It does however become so when the pursuit of a particular agenda means any other initiative must be diminished, rubbished, and dismissed, via the same discriminatory language, and falsely selective presentation. Regrettably, this behaviour too has real and unacceptable consequences. Menaces and trolls should never become an acceptable part of Taskforce involvement.

The Taskforce believes that the values of compassion, inclusion and respect are vital to meeting the challenge. Whatever values the article, and those content to contribute to it, speaks to is unclear. What is clear, is that whilst it stands as unacceptable, it will not deter our work.