Drugs are a part of life, but the way we talk about drugs in our society is hugely problematic. We make distinctions based on a drug's legal status, and most people never question why only certain drugs are illegal.
Media coverage of drugs and drug policy has grown much more sophisticated in the past few years. Yet many media outlets -- even some of the most well-meaning ones -- still often use inaccurate, offensive, or just plain absurd language that would be considered unthinkable when covering other issues.
The war on drugs is a cruel joke. The U.S. spends more than $50 billion a year on the "war on drugs" with the goal of creating a "drug-free society" -- yet there has never been a "drug-free society" in the history of civilization.
Despite the remarkable progress achieved globally, the prevalence and incidence of HIV among these groups remains far higher than in the general population in almost all regions of the world due to restricted access to information, prevention and treatment.
Too often, the people who use drugs are invisible or worse they are stigmatized and demonized as "junkies," "addicts," and "criminals." Drug users are "others" to be held in stark contrast to the rest of "us."