Existing stigma and lack of community acceptance put a serious burden upon many who want to be involved in peer work.  Peers walk the finest line between their community and the mainstream world of policy development and service delivery.

Peer programmes should acknowledge that peers are facing the same stigma as the community they come from. Stepping out in the open and expressing yourself as a peer isn’t an easy thing to do.  Many peer participants feel that the stigma associated with drugs and drug users is still powerful.

“Peer work is an imperfect science operating in a context where personal, societal, and legal agendas collide.  As current or former drug users, peer educators will be exposed to pressure and situations that affect their personal and professional lives.  To protect employees and employer, drug-user organisations have a responsibility to recognise these pressures, anticipate these situations, and establish a clear framework to guide the peer educators' decisions from both practical and ethical perspectives.”

Annie Madden in AIVL brochure ‘A framework for peer education by drug-user organisations’