Stigma and Discrimination

Experiences of stigma and discrimination are a common occurrence in the everyday lives of people who use alcohol and other drugs.

Stigma related to alcohol and other drug use can be understood as the conditioned negative attitudes, opinions and beliefs held by an individual that people who use drugs are somehow different to all other people. In this community’s context, discrimination occurs when people who use drugs are treated less favourably than others because of their drug use.

In recent decades we have seen the success of many campaigns which have led to a reduction in stigma based on, for example, mental health, race and gender. However, widespread stigma and discrimination towards those in our community who use alcohol and other drugs is still disturbingly prevalent and must be addressed.

The ATDC believes that all people who use alcohol and other drugs have a right to respect and dignity, and a right to access services if they feel their use is becoming problematic.

It is also not well known that addiction is deemed a disability under Tasmanian and Commonwealth laws, and discrimination against an individual on the grounds of their addiction is unlawful.

Challenging the current stigma and discrimination felt by the alcohol and drug client population in Tasmania has been identified as a future priority for the alcohol and other drug sector in Tasmania.