Druglink has warned that much media reporting of drugs is often irresponsible and inaccurate as it unveils a new look intended to make it look more like a mainstream current affairs magazine.
Deputy editor Max Daly, who has worked for Druglink for almost four years, said that the victimisation of drug users and language such as “junkie” and “drug-taking scum” can have an unhelpful effect.
He said: “There needs to be less labelling of anyone who takes drugs as a drug fiend, and as someone who is a lower person than someone who doesn’t take drugs. By labelling people in this way you’re making it harder for them to get help because they get scapegoated.”
Daly said the press are all too quick to mention a defendant’s past drug use in a trial even if it has no relevance to the case, which in turn can mislead the public.
He said: “The fact that someone on trial might have smoked cannabis seven years ago is often lifted to the top of the story, just because it suits the newspapers’ agenda and drugs are a red-hot issue. There’s a constant flow of drug-related stories. Because of this people often get an inaccurate picture about drugs.”
In 2006 the press reported that crystal meth was a growing threat in the UK, with The Independent running a story headlined “Crystal meth – Britain’s deadliest drug problem”.
Daly said that the truth is that while the drug is rife in the USA, it is not the case here.
He said: “A new drug on the scene – even if only one person takes it – is a story the press love even if there’s very little truth in it.
“They love any kind of scare story – this drug is going to take over the country, shock horror.”
Daly said that Druglink has decided to change the way it presents its annual drug street-prices survey, released in September, in a bid to get it covered more soberly in the press.
This year it will only be showing changes in trends rather than the actual street prices in different areas.
Daly said that the actual prices of drugs don’t fluctuate that much year on year, but local press have a tendency to splash on the prices and it creates distress if one area is reported to be cheaper than others.
Daly said that the redesign by Druglink, which launched in 1975, is intended to move it away from the “boring” charity magazine feel and more to a “current affairs magazine style”.
Druglink is affiliated with the charity Drugscope, but is not the house magazine for the charity.