Drugs guide aims to tackle media misreporting

DrugScope, a UK centre of expertise on drugs, hopes to stem what it perceives as inaccurate reporting of drug issues with a new media guide.

The guide, funded by the Wellcome Trust, encourages responsible journalism and will be a key resource for those reporting on drugs, said the organisation.

It sets out to explode commonly repeated myths about drugs, explaining that, for example:

-Cannabis is far from being a ‘harmless’ drug; 
-There is no such thing as a soft drug;

-No drug is instantly addictive; addiction generally takes several months to develop.

The guide also contains a glossary of drug terms and further resources such as picture libraries and statistics.

Helen Wilkinson, director of information and policy at DrugScope, said: "The media has a key role to play in informing people of the danger of drugs. It also has a responsibility not to mislead people by giving them incorrect information, which can actually make matters worse. There is already evidence that the disproportionate coverage given to ecstasy deaths has led to some people switching from ecstasy use to cocaine use and therefore increasing the harm that drugs are doing. We hope this tool will inform coverage in the future and help journalists filter fact from fiction."

lTo order a copy of The Media Guide to Drugs online, please visit www.

drugscope.org.uk/news_home.asp.

By Jean Morgan

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