QNADA congratulates the Queensland Mental Health Commission on the release of the Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives report which reveals the extent of stigma and discrimination on people experiencing problems related to their alcohol and other drug (AOD) use.
Rebecca Lang, Chief Executive of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies (QNADA) says, ‘The research this report contains confirms what we have long known – experiencing stigma and discrimination is sadly a common occurrence in the everyday lives of people experiencing problematic alcohol and other drug use.”
‘Hearing people describe, in detail, multiple, specific times that they had been judged, treated badly, looked down upon or excluded because of their AOD use is distressing.’
When asked how these experiences of stigma and discrimination made them feel, people involved in the research described feelings of degradation, shame and anger. This contributes to further problematic use for people and creates a barrier to asking for help. Some people are also discouraged from seeking help by the stigma they face from health care professionals and the broader community as users of alcohol and other drugs.
Ms Lang applauds the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic, for identifying 18 options for change that will focus on educating and changing individual attitudes, challenging stereotypes, reforming policies and laws, and highlighting AOD use as a health concern, rather than a moral or criminal issue.
The Commission’s reform options are based on stakeholder consultation, as well as research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Both reports are available at www.qmhc.qld.gov.au.
For more information, anecdotes or comment, please contact Rebecca Lang on 0408 669 590.