Fear of stigma mediates the relationship between internalized stigma and treatment-seeking among individuals with substance use problems
Background: Despite the high prevalence and significant health consequences of substance use disorders, rates of treatment seeking are low. Identifying as an “addict” caries a mainstream connotation that the individual is blameworthy, which contributes to unique stressors and stigma that shape how they are viewed and treated. While substantial literature demonstrates this stigmatizing perspective may serve as a barrier to treatment-seeking, other studies present discrepant findings. The current study seeks to examine the role of fear of stigma and anticipation of being stigmatized in the relationship between internalized stigma and help-seeking for substance use disorders. Objective: We examined substance use-related stigma, fear of stigma, and treatment-seeking behaviors in a national sample of young adults with a history of problematic substance use. Methods: Participants (N = 171) completed an online, anonymous survey. Results: When controlling for enacted stigma and severity of alcohol and other drug use problems, more fear of stigma significantly mediated the relationship between higher internalized stigma and more help-seeking intentions. The sequentially mediated paths between internalized stigma and both help-seeking intentions and previous behaviors through fear of stigma and anticipated stigma were not significant. Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of fear of substance-related stigma as one mechanism by which internalized stigma may motivate individuals to seek treatment for substance use problems.
Substance Use and Misuse
Benz, Madeline B.; Cabrera, Korine B.; Kline, Nora; Bishop, Lia S.; and Palm Reed, Kathleen, "Fear of stigma mediates the relationship between internalized stigma and treatment-seeking among individuals with substance use problems" (2021). Psychology. 573.