The stigmatisation of drug users as morally corrupt and undeserving of compassion has its roots in the Victorian anti-alcohol movement. Stuart Walton on how society is struggling to free itself from what is becoming a debilitating habit.
A gathering mood of intolerance is abroad in society with regard to a whole range of medical conditions. Any chronically persisting state, or set of habits, that is seen as self-inflicted, and is endangering, or is likely in the future to endanger, an individual’s health is increasingly being made a matter of personal culpability. Whether the issue is obesity, smoking, drinking above government guidelines, or problem drug use, the narrative is the same. It is your own fault, and the rest of society can be forgiven for asking itself why it should continue to look after you.