Looking beyond stigma

Here at the AODCCC, we aim to promote the interests, education and welfare of those affected by alcohol and other drug use. 
We aim to create a safe space for diverse views to be shared, along with taking courageous steps towards what is needed in the community, which in this case, is to look beyond stigma.

Stigma can be defined as the labelling and stereotyping of difference, at both an individual and societal level, which leads to status loss, exclusion, rejection and discrimination. Discrimination is a direct effect of stigma – the negative outcomes that arise from experiences of stigmatisation (1).

For those with a lived and/or living experience of alcohol and other drugs, stigma and discrimination can lead to decreased access to treatment and support services (2), judgment and a lack of support from health professionals (3), unfair treatment in the justice system, a lack of employment opportunities and strain on relationships and families (1).

It is known that mental health challenges and alcohol and other drug use can coincide, and often stigma relating to alcohol and other drugs can exclusively lead to poorer mental health outcomes (4).

Within the Australian health care system, there is often a separation of mental health and alcohol and other drug services from broader health services. Despite the strong relationship between these areas, support services are often provided in separate locations by different professionals, which can reinforce the stigma and discrimination experienced by those with a lived and/or living experience of alcohol and other drugs (5).

By amplifying the voices of our members, we aim to take the necessary actions through systemic advocacy, to address this gap in the health system, to ultimately reduce stigma and discrimination and improve health outcomes for those with a lived and/ or living experience of alcohol and other drugs.

Our 2022-23 Annual Membership Survey results highlight the prevalence of stigma and discrimination experienced by those within our membership, who undertook the survey (47 participants). See below some statistics on this.

We are currently analysing and consolidating the results of our 2023-24 Annual Membership Survey, check back here soon for more membership statistics.

Stigma and Discrimination Graph (5)
Big Issues (Facebook Cover) (Banner (Landscape)) (1)

In an effort to look beyond stigma, we have designed a platform to give our members an opportunity to share their experiences.

We believe that through a collective effort towards sharing our stories, we can break through the stigma held towards alcohol and other drugs and create emphasis towards a community that values lived and living experience voices.

Story sharing is open to all AODCCC Members- whether you yourself have a lived or living experience of alcohol and/or drug use, or you are a family member, significant other, support or ally of someone with a lived or living experience.

We welcome you to share your story and help to break down the misconceptions and stigmatising views towards alcohol and other drugs. 
If you have a story to share but you aren’t a member, sign up for free HERE.
Please note, membership applications are processed at the end of each month. Once endorsed, you will gain access to information about how to share your story.

Click the image to read some of our member’s stories ➜ 

1) Lancaster, K., Seear, K. and Ritter, A. (2017). Reducing stigma and discrimination for people experiencing problematic alcohol and other drug use. Brisbane: Queensland Mental Health Commission. Available at: https://www.qmhc.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/downloads/reducing_stigma_and_discrimination_for_people_experiencing_problematic_alcohol_and_other_drugs_ndarc_april_2017.pdf  

2) Australian Journal of General Practice. (2023). How stigmatising language affects people in Australia who use TAOD. Available at: https://www1.racgp.org.au/getattachment/fb1f4c1d-60fe-47ef-891f-48cb2792368c/How-stigmatising-language-affects-people-in-Austra.aspx  

3) Paquette, C.E., Syvertsen, J.L. and Pollini, R.A. (2018). Stigma at every turn: Health services experiences among people who inject drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy, 57, pp.104–110. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.04.004  

4) Lancaster, K., Santana, L., Madden, A. and Ritter, A. (2014). Stigma and subjectivities: Examining the textured relationship between lived experience and opinions about drug policy among people who inject drugs. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 22(3), pp.224–231. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/09687637.2014.970516 

5) Productivity Commission 2020, Mental Health, Inquiry Report no. 95, Canberra. Available at: https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/mental-health/report/mental-health.pdf 

6) Alcohol and Other Drugs: Stigma. (2019). [online] Australia: Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Available at: https://cdn.adf.org.au/media/documents/ADF_Stigma_background_paper.pdf  

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