Why so much discrimination against People Who Use Drugs?-Author –Anjay KC-CDUN

As with wars throughout history, the negative consequences of the “drug war” fall heaviest on the most vulnerable, excluded and marginalized. Drug Users have a lot in common with other marginalized groups, such as LBGTQ’s , sex workers, people with disabilities and asylum seekers. Most people have never met them and know very little about the realities of their lives. Where there is a void of factual information, stigma and prejudice often rush in to fill the space[1], propagating a social stereotype that assumes all drug-dependent people are the same.
Many people don't like drug users and that this dislike hinders the health prospects, social integration and future employment for this group[2]. I've seen absolutely unspeakable acts of discrimination against people who've done nothing wrong because medical and/or police personnel ignorantly assume all “junkies" are the same.
Public perception towards people who use drugs or are dependent on drugs is fueled, echoed and amplified by inaccurate and offensive media reporting. Dependent drug users are one of the few populations that media commentators can still insult and demean with a large degree of impunity[3].
On 18th February 2011 the Irish Independent published a column by Ian O’Doherty that said. “Let’s get a few things straight – I hate junkies more than anything else. I hate their greed, their stupidity, their constant sense of self-pity, the way they can justify their behaviour, the damage they do to their own family and to others.” He added that: “If every junkie in this country were to die tomorrow I would cheer.” A complaint about the column made to the Irish Press Ombudsman was later upheld. 
Such pervasive media portrayals that demonize people who use drugs have spawned policies that systematically discriminate against drug users. The taboo associated with drug use is so widespread that even many people who support drug policy reform hold negative assumptions about people whose drug use they consider abusive[4].
The truth is some drug users are treacherous people, just like any non-drug users can be. It's important to recognize that addiction, once it takes hold, is usually not logical or rational.
However, most drug users I know, are decent people trying to get by just dealing with a drug addiction. For every drug user you spot there are several you don't even notice. I've known drug users who were professionals, devoted parents and those who dedicate themselves to making the world a better place, including some of the most creative musicians and scientists. We're not all liars and thieves[5].
Stopping drugs and then having to dealing with discrimination is also still a real part of life. The use of stigmatising terms such as "junkie" and "addict" is proving a major obstacle to the rehabilitation and recovery of problem drug users, according to a report published by a leading drug policy thinktank[6].
People who use drugs are one of the last remaining social minorities against whom discrimination is encouraged and it's reflected in their poor health seeking behavior resulting in deprived health outcomes. There is a huge emphasis on treatment[7] but those who stop using drugs without treatment are not recorded in the official statistics. The statistics also don't comprehensively record those who relapse months or years after treatment. Media coverage of drug-related deaths also reinforces the discriminatory “evil” drug users’ image. Also, while fatalities resulting from alcohol or prescription drugs go largely unreported, illegal drug deaths receive significant press attention[8].
One of the unintended consequences of international drug control is the way we perceive and deal with the users of drugs that have been made illegal. A system appears to have been created in which those who fall into the web of dependence find themselves excluded and marginalized from the social mainstream, tainted with a moral stigma, and often unable to find treatment, even when they may be motivated to want it[9].
Inaccurate and crude (mis)understandings of drugs have fed through into how people who use drugs are seen: the widely-held, generalising, and unscientific position that illicit drugs are ‘bad’ informs the understanding that people who use drugs are bad too. Drug use is viewed as unacceptable and criminal, therefore people who use drugs, by default, are stigmatised as deviant criminals[10].
Image result for people who use drugs

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/aug/24/stop-stigmatising-drug-addicts
[3] http://www.countthecosts.org/sites/default/files/Stigma-briefing.pdf, The War on Drugs: Promoting stigma and discrimination,
[4] http://www.drugpolicy.org/discrimination-against-drug-users
[5] https://www.datalounge.com/thread/12844385-why-is-there-so-much-discrimination-against-drug-addicts-Anonymous
[6] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/aug/24/stigmatising-problem-drug-users-affects-recovery
[7] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/aug/24/stop-stigmatising-drug-addicts
[8] http://www.countthecosts.org/sites/default/files/Stigma-briefing.pdf
[9] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008, World Drug Report
[10] Drug User Peace Initiative Stigmatising People who Use Drugs- INPUD, Oct 2015. https://www.unodc.org/documents/ungass2016/Contributions/Civil/INPUD/DUPI-Stigmatising_People_who_Use_Drugs-Web.pdf



An Open Letter to INPUD Board, staff, secretariat and Members of the drug user orgs around Australia and the world

This is to every one of the user org bosses, staff and board members who turn a blind eye to the abuses of power and corruption that are occurring within INWUD/PUD and says nothing, do nothing and continue to do business as usual.
Sadly you are one amongst a number of “user activists” who are in paid or prominent positions of power who have stood and watched as something we all loved and created INPUD/WUD is corroded and users are silenced.
 Those of you who work at INPUD, AIVL, NUAA or any of the User orgs in Australia and from around the globe - your silence makes you complicit in crimes against your own community or the very people you claim to represent.
I wish to shine a light on the toxic culture and values within INPUD which underpin the practice and acceptance of cronyism, nepotism, favouritism and the complete lack of transparency and lack of ethics involved in the abuse of discretionary power for private gain.

To add to the ever expanding list of unethical behaviour within INPUD, those of you who knowingly continue to prop up Geoff Ward, aiding & abetting him and his fa├žade as he continues the complete sham that is “Pasifika”. An alleged “regional member” is in fact a totally non-existent user group and yet Geoff’s in his 2nd year as the Pasifika Regional Member and still reports back to INPUD as though Pasifika exists, that in itself is totally unethical.

Mat Southwells corrosive behaviour goes on unchallenged and unabated within the organisation and around the globe. The INPUD board all still haven’t uttered a word against Matt Southwell after his Plan B was brought to light. A campaign of destabilisation waged against former E.O Elliot Albers saw Eliot ousted and INPUDS current EO  handpicked by Matt Southwell from his own staff
The alternate INWUD rep was ousted in a bizarre display of dirty politics, effectively banning me from utilising the E-list to access the very people who voted me in as the Rep in the first place.

Our community members are bullied, deported, silenced, and trolled their lives destroyed by a handful of powerful and privileged “users” and NO-ONE says anything!!!!.

INPUD IS DEAD and Mat Southwell holds the smoking gun.
For anyone interested in pursuing the ideals INPUD was founded on please contact me at freedomvh@gmail.com

Interview with International Alliance of Women Who Use Drugs Rep Freedom Vivian

The International Alliance of Women who use drugs (IAWUD) is one such group that provides women-only spaces, where challenges being faced can be shared, along with support.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers spoke with Freedom Vivian, spokesperson for IAWUD, about the issues that emerge for women under drug prohibition, the need for women-specific networks, and the failure of Australia to keep up its former status as a “world leader” in harm minimisation


'Ice' - the unintended consequence of Prohibition.

Ask anyone these days and they will tell you that Australia is experiencing an ‘Ice Epidemic’ – anyone that is other than those people who would actually know - those working on the front line in the drug user health services.
Interestingly with all the media attention that Ice has been getting you would think that the media would interview those people who represent the users – the Drug User Organisations. So I contacted and asked them and the majority of Drug User Organisations around Australia had not even been contacted or the ones that did found that the answer they got wasn’t as sexy as they had hoped – according to the front line- there is no ‘Ice epidemic’ and lets face it - that isn't going to sell newspapers!
The topic of 'Ice' is like Poverty Porn or Terrorism– no matter how gory or horrific the details get people can’t seem to turn away from it. Plus it’s so juicy to gossip about, because everyone “knows someone who knows someone” who’s on 'the Ice'. 
Fortunately for The Abbott Government this sensationalism and mass hysteria acts as a convenient smokescreen for the Liberal government policy failures. If the Government can keep the public talking about 'Ice' then they don’t have to have the conversation about high unemployment rates, cut backs to services and the increasingly high rates of suicide and mental health issues in rural settings.

The latest news coming out of Australia is that Tony Abbott has announced a ‘dob in a dealer’ hotline. A $45.5 Million hotline. This is in a reported ‘response’ to the media circus and political freak show that has traveled around the country giving a voice to every concerned parent and ‘ex user’ from Lismore to Yuendumu to Elizabeth and Margaret River.
Image result for syringe
Julie Bates is a longtime drug law reform activist and current sits on the  to the NSW User and AIDS Association (NUAA) board had this to say on the subject:
What about 'dob in a drunk,' far more drunk and dangerous people out theredoing harm to themselves and others than people using illicit substances.And, the statistics prove it. Until the Australian government fullyrecognizes a harm reduction approach to all kinds of substance use andkills the war on drugs, that kills people, they will continue to prop upillicit drug sales and labs and inflate the coffers of the criminaleconomy.

Prohibition has made drugs more potent and more profitable and the drug referred to as‘Ice’ is without a doubt an unintended by product of Prohibition. 


People who use drugs and the role of the Media

People who use drugs and the role of the Media 

Here we are it's 2015 and still the media think its ok to call people who use drugs 'Junkies'.
In this particular instance with The Northern Star newspaper in New South Wales in Australia its not just 'Junkie, no not just Junkie but 'Junkie Scum''- Nice!
In a attempt to sell newspapers my local rag has gone to denigrating and dehumanizing users once again.
Currently most countries have some rules that govern what the media or others can and cannot do, and who they can and cannot discriminate against.
Great - I hear you say but hold, on there's a catch - it seems its still ok to discriminate against people who use drugs in most countries. While the impact of stigmatization and discrimination is widely known and accepted, it seems that as users of different drugs we are somehow unaffected by stigma or perhaps they consider us as deserving of such humiliation and discrimination. Sure they might not get away with talking derogatorily about our diseases or disabilities such as HIV or Hep C but it seems as PWUD we are still fair game.
I for one think that is quite frankly - fucked.


Time to end Prohibition say The Global Commision on Drug Policy

In their latest report released today Tuesday 9/9/2014 The Global Commission on Drug Policy has called for an official end to the War on Drugs and people who use illicit drugs by UNGASS 2016.

The report is the fourth release from the Commission since its inception in 2011 and is calling for more sane, realistic and human drug policies. Not only does the report detail the overwhelming evidence and  failure of Prohibition to attain its stated goals but also identifies the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies on individuals, communities, society and the environment.

"Harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies must be replaced by more humane and effective policies shaped by scientific evidence, public health principles and human rights standards. This is the only way to simultaneously reduce drug-related death, disease and suffering and the violence, crime, corruption and illicit markets associated with ineffective prohibitionist policies. The fiscal implications of the policies we advocate, it must be stressed, pale in comparison to the direct costs and indirect consequences generated by the current regime."
In order to reduce drug related harms and undermine the power and profits of organized crime, the Commission recommends that governments regulate drug markets and adapt their enforcement strategies to target the most violent and disruptive criminal groups rather than punish low level players.

“The world needs to discuss new approaches… we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years … A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it. I’m not against it.”

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia.

Below are the five recommended pathways to end Prohibition.


Elliot Albers from INPUD calls for an end to the War on People who use Drugs.

‘Without an end to the global war that has long been fought on our community there will be no end to HIV’.  Elliot Albers- EO of INPUD (International Network of People who use Drugs) and community activist.  

‘Without an end to the global war that has long been fought on our community there will be no end to HIV’, says Elliot Albers- EO of INPUD (International Network of People who use Drugs) and community activist.

In his speech to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne Australia titled ‘Perspectives from the Community of People who Use Drugs’ Elliot Albers called for an end to ‘The War on people who use Drugs’ and an immediate cessation of the violence being perpetuated under the 1961 Single Convention in the name of ‘prohibition’. Below is the transcript from the closing session.


The House I Live In - Documentary - Review

The House I Live In, directed by Eugene Jarecki, is a 2012 documentary film about the War on Drugs in the United States.

The 'War on Drugs' has been the longest war in the history of humankind. It has been fought for over 40 years. And yet - a judge can still snort cocaine off a hookers arse in all 50 states.
Drugs are still readily available and just as many people use them as they have in the past. To say the war has failed in its objectives is an understatement. A catastrophic and monumental failure, if the objectives where to reduce drug related harm. Furthermore the consequences of short sighted government drug policy has had a huge impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people.

For some people the 'War on Drugs' doesn't mean much. But just like the name suggests: its a war. However it's not a war on drugs but on people. Real people just like you and me. Families and whole communities are caught up and become victims to this "War". Lives are destroyed, families pulled apart, an entire generation of black men are being incarcerated. Children are growing up with one or more family member in jail.

This is the stark reality captured in the  thought provoking documentary titled The House I live In.
winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, in 2012.
For anyone sitting on the fence I suggest you watch this documentary. Educate yourself.



International Drug Users Day 1st November 2012

Did you know that there is an International Drug Users Day?
Yep that's right, we have a day - November the 1st.
One day a year that people who use drugs can choose to celebrate and commemorate  our lives, loves, challenges and choices. Its a day of celebration mainly- not a day to feel bad.
We have other days to focus on Overdose and HIV/AIDS but this is the one day for us and the good things about us . Unlike other days it's not about our ability to get sick and infect others or overdose and die and cause pain to our loved ones.

International Drug Users Day is one day where it is OK to be a person who uses drugs and to not have to apologise for it.

We already have mountains of guilt and shame projected onto us by those who seek to 'cure' us or 'rescue' us and we don't need any more excuses to feel bad about ourselves.
But we do need International Drug Users Day, our peers, our organisations and a chance to speak our truths and to be involved in the decision making that determines our futures.  Despite the ever mounting evidence to the contrary, people who use illicit drugs are still treated as somehow 'subhuman' and treated as 'other' and therefor stigmatised and discriminated against by the general population. Just as homosexuality used to be classified as a 'disease', drug use is still labelled an illness from which we need to recover.
Or do we?
We are complex individuals and our relationship with drugs is often complex. In an attempt to control us society has labelled us and categorised us as 'sick' or 'genetically predisposed to addicition' or 'deviant' and antisocial.
This is my 'truth'.....I for one do not buy into the disease model or theory. Sure people who suffer from mental health issues may also be self prescribing with substances - half their luck if they found something that works for them. Certainly people who use drugs have the same illnesses, diseases and disorders as the wider community.
But drug use in and of itself is not a 'disease'.

When asked, people who use drugs say they do so for two reasons.
To feel good.
To feel better.

So on International Drug Users Day do not let anyone tell you that you are sick or deviant or in denial.
You know who you are; someone who enjoys illicit drugs. Different drugs than the wider community.

You may not have realised that there is an International Drug Users Day and you may not realise you are not alone; all over the world there are Drug User Organisations, run by users for users.
In Australia you can link in through AIVL on a National Level or through the individual states Drug User Orgs. Internationally you can try google 'drug user organisation and your country or state or try INPUD (International Network of People who use drugs). Or leave me a message and Ill refer you.
Have a great day -