Care to Share Report

node leader
7 June 2019

Care to Share Report

Can we better understand the complex relationships we have with drug and alcohol use by looking at social media conversation?

We are particularly interested in the stigma revealed amongst daily social media conversation about drug and alcohol use. What is the impact language is having on people concerned about their own drug and alcohol use? or a loved one’s? or on people in sustaining their recovery from addiction?

Stigma experienced by people who use, or have used drugs and alcohol, and the resulting discrimination they experience can cause individuals to feel shame and guilt, which in turn causes delays to accessing support. Stigma also restricts the ability of people in recovery to access the resources, such as jobs, homes and social support, that help sustain their recovery, and can have an enduring effect in complicating the lives of the stigmatised even as treatment improves their symptoms.

 

To explore this topic, we partnered with audience intelligence platform Pulsar. Using their social media monitoring tool, Pulsar tracked all UK conversation on social media about drug and alcohol use, including both formal, medical and informal language. Pulsar tracked this conversation for two months between 1 December 2018 and 31 January 2019, capturing 198,900 public messages from Twitter, forums & blog channels - and analysed the people, attitudes and events driving this discussion. 

To read the full report click here

Key Messages from the report

For charities, professionals & organisations in the health and social care sector

Engaging in social media with educational content, and by showing stories of personal change and recovery within a context of life and relationships, can reduce stigma of problematic substance use by combatting the dehumanisation of people affected by addiction 
 
For journalists and media

Adding depth and nuance – we all use the term ‘drugs’ and ‘drug use’ as a useful conversational shorthand. However, not all drugs are the same, adding depth and insight to articles on the use of drugs for example referring to substances by name (crack, heroin, alcohol, cannabis) may help educate the reader that drug use is a complex issue.

Expanding on the environmental context in which problematic drug use thrives e.g. considering social deprivation, homelessness, poor mental health, social exclusion, helps to educate readers on the social drivers and pressures that influence healthy choices.   

People first language – using people first language rather than substance specific language reminds everyone that someone who uses drugs is a person first and should not be defined through the narrow view of a health condition or behaviour.
 
For social media users

Recognise that all drug use experiences are unique and consider personal drug use in the context of wider life and relationships. 

Even when using humour consider the vulnerable person that may be negatively affected by seeing that use of stigmatising language in a public forum 

People first language – using people first language rather than substance specific language reminds everyone that someone who uses drugs is a person first and should not be defined through the narrow view of a health condition or behaviour

 

 

Phoenix Futures is a registered charity in England and Wales (No 284880) and in Scotland (No SCO39008); Company Limited by Guarantee Number 1626869; Registered Provider of Social Housing with Homes England (H3795).