How we talk about Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) has been thrust firmly into the national spotlight this week, following the recent release of the fourth season of 13 Reasons Why.
The Netflix drama series explores issues affecting young people, with season four featuring a prominent character experiencing a range of issues related to AOD.
The topic of AOD is a matter of significant public interest and to see it discussed, explored and navigated through the lens of a popular TV series is an important step towards reducing associated stigma.
Everymind Acting Program Manager, Sara Bartlett said while including the topic of AOD in a prominent storyline is important, it is vital that the topic is discussed safely to minimise harm to individuals and families.
“The way we talk about AOD and those who use AOD can significantly impact individuals, the communities in which they live and their families,” Ms Bartlett said.
“It is great to see the topic covered in mainstream productions as they are a powerful and important partner in educating the community.
“Mindframe has been working with Netflix since the development of season two and are continuing to provide support throughout the release of season four.
“We encourage media covering this news story to ensure discussions are in line with Mindframe AOD guidelines.
“This is especially vital as we know that inaccurate or sensationalised portrayals of AOD in media or fictionalised portrayals can lead to stigmatisation and marginalisation of people impacted by AOD and their families.
“When people experience stigma they are less likely to seek appropriate help in a timely manner.”
Mindframe AOD Guidelines supports media and stakeholders to safely communicate about AOD in a way that encourages help-seeking and reduces stigma.
As discussion is likely to continue around season four, there are some considerations for media and communities when starting conversations about AOD:
- Avoid characterising someone by their AOD use. Where possible, remind the audience that the subject is not only a person who uses drugs, but someone who has other traits.
- Presenting people who use AOD as delinquent, violent and morally weak is inaccurate and can lead to further stigma and reduce help-seeking. Likewise, avoid glamorising AOD use as it can contribute to increased use or initiation of a particular drug.
- Labelling someone by their AOD use or describing someone who uses drugs or previously used drugs as ‘dirty’ or ‘clean’ can be stigmatising and demoralising.
- Statements or phases that describe people who use AOD as hopeless or similar may discourage users from seeking help.
- Conveying adverse health and social consequences associated with AOD use in a balanced and evidence-informed way can be effective in reducing or modifying AOD use.
- Remember that harmful AOD use is a public health issue, not a moral failing and media portrayals should reflect this.
For more information on the Mindframe AOD guidelines, please visit: https://bit.ly/3f82gjR
For anyone seeking alcohol and other drugs support, please contact the National 24/7 Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.