Mustafa Elkhishin from PHN was among the speakers at the Family Drug Support event
Mustafa Elkhishin from PHN was among the speakers at the Family Drug Support event JACK EVANS

Lets change how we talk about drugs in society

A CHANGE in language and policy were on the agenda as the Family Drug Support organisation announced the opening of a Rockhampton facility in Campbell St.

The announcement coincided with an event held by FDS to raise awareness for families affected by drug dependency.

The event hosted a range of different speakers from a variety of different fields including other support networks and policing.

Chrissie Kelly, the Queensland state manager of FDS was glad to bring the program to Rockhampton in a physical capacity.

"Family Drug Support was funded by Queensland Health and we have secured an office in Campbell St," she said.

"Out of that office, we will provide one-on-one support to families, run support groups for families and information sessions.

"Once we're established in the Rockhampton region, we hope to expand our services to Gladstone and other areas in CQ.

"It is exciting times for us at Family Drug Support and hopefully the community will get behind us and support our work."

Ms Kelly said changing language and dialogue in public discourse around people with drug dependency needed to happen to reduce stigma.

"Language is fluid, so we're trying to reduce the shame and stigma through changing how we talk about the issue."

"If we can reduce the shame and stigma, people will be more likely to seek help.

"Calling them an 'addict' doesn't help and it almost puts that on them as an identity."

Ms Kelly said the same could be applied for families with drug dependencies.

"Families also get the blame and other horrible words are used for them such as 'enablers' but people are going to use drugs regardless, so families are not to blame for this," she said.

"There is lots of language which we need to think about how we use and how it affects people."

She said an initiative such as StigmaWatch, a body that provided input and informal protocol on how media outlets report on mental health issues, could be easily applied in the case of reporting on drug use.