Addressing Stigma Toward Individuals with Substance Use Disorder

Posted 9/7/2022

Stigma related to addiction is prevalent within a healthcare setting. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2014) noted that stigma and the perception of stigma is a significant reason that individuals do not seek behavioral health care services. A recent study in the Harm Reduction Journal cited that over 75% of participants reported at least one instance of stigma related to health care system engagement and that 60% anticipate experiencing stigma in their health care setting.1 While medical science has demonstrated that substance use disorders are indeed a disease, people with substance use disorders are most often blamed for their condition. Many people do not disclose their use of drugs and alcohol due to the stigma surrounding it, therefore influencing both physical health and behavioral health treatment and treatment outcomes. In this office hours presentation, we will present the different types of stigmas and discuss strategies to reduce stigma to improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes.


1: Muncan, B., Walters, S. M., Ezell, J., & Ompad, D. C. (2020). “They look at us like junkies”: Influences of drug use stigma on the healthcare engagement of people who inject drugs in New York City. Harm Reduction Journal, 17(1).