When communicating about someone who uses alcohol and other drugs (AOD), it's important to consider the impacts on the individual and their likelihood to reach out for support.
Public attitudes and beliefs can have a significant impact on individuals who use AOD and their families. This may have the potential to influence their ability to engage in help-seeking behaviour.
When communicating about someone who uses AOD it is helpful to remember:
- presenting people who use AOD as delinquents, violent and weak is inaccurate and can lead to further stigma and reduces help-seeking behaviour
- characterising a person by their AOD use is unhelpful and stigmatising.
- Using person-centred language, for example instead of referring to someone has a “cannabis user” describe the person as “a person who uses cannabis.”
- when communicating about someone who has broken the law in a drug related crime, ensure information is factual, avoiding sensationalist content.
- Be sensitive in understanding, that the way a person who uses AOD is portrayed, can potentially have an impact on their life, including high-profile people and celebrities.
- Where possible, remind the audience that you can receive treatment for a drug disorder and make a full recovery from the substance.