Faculty Publications

Title

Stigma towards Marijuana Users and Heroin Users

Document Type

Article

Keywords

beliefs, contact, correlates, stigma, substance use

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

Volume

47

Issue

3

First Page

213

Last Page

220

Abstract

Despite high levels of stigmatizing attitudes and behaviors toward individuals with substance use problems, there is surprisingly limited research on understanding the contributors to such high levels. College students with no history of marijuana or heroin use (N = 250) completed self-report measures to examine the level of substance use stigma towards individuals using two illicit substances (marijuana and heroin) and the contribution of three perceiver characteristics (sex, previous contact with substance users, and five beliefs about substance use) to three dimensions of stigma (social distance, negative emotions, and forcing treatment). Greater levels of internalized stigma were noted towards individuals who use heroin (versus marijuana). For marijuana use, those who had less previous contact and higher endorsement of certain beliefs (rarity, severity, and less controllability) were associated with greater stigmatizing attitudes. For heroin use, the associations were weak or non-existent. The findings strengthen the argument that substance use stigma needs to be examined and perhaps addressed substance by substance, rather than as a group. Further, contact interventions may be a particularly effective strategy for altering substance use stigma.

Original Publication Date

5-27-2015

DOI of published version

10.1080/02791072.2015.1056891

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