On International Drug Users’ Remembrance Day, we take time to remember the family, friends, peers, and loved ones whose lives have been unjustly and tragically cut short. The criminalisation and stigmatisation of people who use drugs continue to desensitise our society to the callous injustice carried out in the name of the so-called War on Drugs. In a world where the deaths of people who use drugs are treated more like statistics than avoidable casualties of misguided policy, it is imperative for our community to honour those who the rest of the world will not.
This year’s Remembrance Day comes at a time where these injustices have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fragility of our health systems, economies, and political institutions have been laid bare to the public. Ideas advocated by people who use drugs for decades are now considered as viable and necessary policy changes. While we welcome this discourse, we must remember we are still living through the worst overdose crisis in history. In North America spikes in overdose calls and deaths have been linked to measures put in place to combat COVID-19. Whether it be reduction in safe supply, social distancing guidelines leading to more people using alone, overcrowded prisons and other detention centres, or restricted access to harm reduction services, worldwide we are once again seeing people who use drugs become forgotten casualties amidst a global crisis.
The need to change our language in relation to people who use drugs has become an increasing topic of discussion, but there is still a long way to go. People who use drugs are highly diverse and their relationship with drug use takes many different forms. Current prohibitionist approaches to drug use and ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric does little to encourage language that acknowledges this diversity. Instead, it promotes and maintains negative stereotypes that construct people who use drugs as morally flawed, inferior, unreliable, and dangerous.
Language does not stand still. It is dynamic, and the language and words we use are always changing. This makes it difficult to be absolute in the way we use language. Nevertheless, there are times when certain language and words used in relation to people who use drugs can be disempowering, divisive, confusing, or give offence.
Compiled by INPUD and the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD), this guide aims to explain our current position on the use of language and to provide clear advice on what is acceptable to us as communities of people who use drugs. We want to encourage all people to be thoughtful about the language and words they use, and have therefore provided a reference guide that identifies stigmatising language and gives non-judgemental, strengths-based, and respectful alternatives.
Read the full statement and guide in English here (translations TBA).
In this new commentary written for the International Journal of Drug Policy, INPUD Executive Director Judy Chang and Secretariat members Jake Agliata and Mauro Guarinieri explain why the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity to confront the mistakes of the past and build a new reality where the rights, health and dignity of people who use drugs are recognized and respected.
The COVID-19 crisis has magnified existing social, economic and political inequities. People who use drugs are particularly vulnerable due to criminalisation and stigma and often experience underlying health conditions, higher rates of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, as well as a lack of access to vital resources – putting them at greater risk of infection. On the other hand, COVID-19 presents an opportunity to confront the mistakes of the past and re-negotiate a new social contract. The International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD) believe that this crisis must be an occasion to rethink the function of punishment, to reform the system and to work towards ending the war on drugs. This commentary presents a set of recommendations to UN agencies, governments, donor agencies, academics and researchers and civil society, challenging these actors to work alongside people who use drugs to enact a new reality based on solidarity and cooperation, protection of health and restoration of rights and dignity and most importantly to mobilise to win the peace.
View the full series, published each Monday throughout HIV2020 Online, here: https://www.hiv2020.org/hiv2020-ope-007
The global movement of people who use drugs has achieved exponential growth over the last four decades. Throughout the world drug user led advocacy has become a global phenomenon pushing to protect and defend the health and human rights of the drug using community and other people facing marginalisation in society.
In collaboration with the Rights Reporter Foundations (Drugreporter), we are very excited to share "Taking Back What's Ours!", a new documentary film series which captures the history and genesis of the global movement of people who use drugs. In this series you will meet activists undertaking critical work in their communities, and learn how they navigate this work within the context of criminalisation, stigmatisation and oppression.
The series is part of HIV2020 Online, running from July through October 2020. Starting on Monday, 6th of July 2020 we will be releasing one episode per week. The film has a total of 10 chapters and will cover countries in all regions of the world. You can join the conversation over social media by sharing the film each week with the hashtags #TakingBackWhatsOurs, #ReclaimTheResponse and #HIV2020.
Special thanks to INPUD Board Member Tonny van Montfoort for driving this project and all the other outstanding activists featured in the series who are fighting for the rights of people who use drugs all over the world.
We are excited to share the first report from our survey on people who use drugs in a COVID-19 Environment.
Read the full report now in:
The data presented is a brief overview and summary of initial data from the first 3 weeks of the online survey, collected between the 8th May - 31st May 2020 across all six languages of the survey. Data analysis was conducted using automatically generated Survey Monkey data summary reports for the quantitative results and a qualitative thematic analysis approach to identify the key themes within each language version and the collated data set. Data collection is ongoing and further data analysis and reports will be produced in due course. This data report is designed to provide a brief overview of the data collected and some of the key emerging issues. For this reason, not all available data is included in the analysis below.
Country specific data has been provided for some responses to provide context, but this should not be taken to mean that the issues reported have not occurred in other settings.
This brief report includes:
1. Overview of the total sample to 31 May 2020;
2. Data on 3 specific COVID-19 questions on testing and awareness of cases;
3. Brief qualitative summary of key themes and issues from 4 key sections of survey on:
a. Health and Harm Reduction;
- 1 of 30
- next ›