Substance Abusers, Even Recovering Ones, May Face
FRIDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- People are more likely to
disapprove of and avoid substance abusers than those who smoke or
are obese, according to a new study.
Participants were presented with six fictitious scenarios about
a person who either abused substances such as alcohol or drugs,
smoked, or was obese.
"Specifically, participants rated their willingness for the individual in the fictitious scenario to marry into their family, be friends, socialize, work on a job, be a neighbor, and have one's child date," study author Lindsay Phillips, an assistant professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa., said in a college news release.
As expected, "people who were actively using substances were the
most highly stigmatized group, receiving a high level of reported
intention to be socially distant from the individual," Phillips
The results support previous research that found substance
abusers were more stigmatized than people with depression or
schizophrenia. However, this new study also found that even former
substance abusers still face high levels of social scorn.
"Although being in remission results in substantially less stigma for smoking and obesity, stigma is only slightly decreased for individuals in remission from substance use," Phillips said.
The findings are troubling because past studies have suggested
that stigma can discourage substance abusers from seeking help and
make them believe that they can't change their ways, Phillips
The study is published online in the
Journal of Substance Use.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about
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