Meeting Summary – September 2023: Understanding stigma through the lived experiences of people with opioid use disorder

Oct 3, 2023 | Meeting Summary


Judd H, Yaugher AC, O'Shay S, Meier CL. Understanding stigma through the lived experiences of people with opioid use disorder. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2023 Aug 1;249:110873. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2023.110873. Epub 2023 Jun 24. PMID: 37390780.

Article Summary

Stigma, or a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of
people have about substance use disorders, harms people’s ability to seek
treatment and maintain recovery. This is especially true for people who could
most benefit from substance use treatment and recovery services. This is
particularly true for opioid use disorder (OUD) stigma, which in recent years has likely fueled the overdose epidemic. This project explores the lived experiences of persons who were in recovery from OUD or a family member of someone with OUD with a focus on stigma. In looking at the stories told by people with OUD, researchers in this study found storytelling three main types of stigma that were described by people who participated in the study (storytellers): 1) Social stigma, 2) Self-stigma, and 3) Structural stigma. Stigma can impact people with OUD in multiple different ways, at different times in their treatment and recovery journeys. Hearing these stories can help us better understand the lived experience of stigma and how to reduce stigma in the future.

Understanding stigma through the lived experiences of people with opioid<br />
use disorder

Key Themes

It is critical to have the lived experience of people with substance use disorder and in recovery represented in research about substance use.

Social stigma (i.e. the language people use about substance use) can reduce individuals' power and humanity.

Other types of stigma exist, like internalized stigma, which can prevent people from seeking health care.

People who use drugs can have negative impacts on their health from experiencing stigma, stress, and discrimination for extended periods of time.

Radical recovery, which promotes the open discussion about substance use and recovery, can make a huge difference in combating stigma.

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