New Turning Point research maps out strategies to respond to stigma
Illicit drug use disorders are the most stigmatised health conditions worldwide, and stigma acts as a meaningful barrier to treatment entry and provision.
A recent Turning Point and Monash Addiction Research Centre paper reviewed the drivers of stigma and how it affects opioid use disorder treatment and policy. This paper is timely in context of dramatically rising opioid-related harms.
The narrative review discusses how opioid-related stigma impacts treatment provision and harm reduction, and provides potential strategies to reduce opioid-related stigma at the macro (structural), meso (public) and micro (internalised) levels. For example, one strategy for reducing stigma at the macro level is population-wide anti-stigma campaigns like Rethink Addiction.
Reducing stigma requires strategies that target multiple levels, and addressing inequity in the laws, regulations, and rules that segregate people with opioid and other substance use disorders from mainstream society is essential. Reducing stigma also helps ensure people living with addiction and their families get the help and support they need and deserve.
As Moira told the Rethink Addiction campaign, "My brother lived with heroin addiction for a year before passing away, which stemmed from using other drugs prior. Due to the stigma associated with drug use, my family and I worried about telling people how he passed due to fear of judgement and negativity. I wish we could break down the stigma so not only those struggling with addiction can reach out, but also families needing support during times where recovery isn't met."