Stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on a negative stereotype. Stigma often affects how people with opioid use disorder are treated, making it difficult for them to find jobs, places to live, and medical care. Even if unintentional, the hurtful words and actions of others can keep people who are struggling with addiction from getting help and staying in treatment for as long as they need it.
Click each of the questions below to learn more about stigma.
Opioid use disorder is not a choice. It’s a disease that can be treated.
Many Americans incorrectly view opioid use disorder as a moral weakness or character flaw. In fact, it is a brain disease that can be treated.
Overcoming addiction takes more than willpower. Medicine can be a very effective part of the solution.
Stigma leads some people to believe that taking medicine for opioid use disorder is “replacing one drug for another” and not real recovery." In fact, people who take FDA-approved medicines like buprenorphine (Suboxone®), naltrexone (Vivitrol®), and methadone are more likely to stay in recovery and enjoy healthy, productive lives.
Stigma keeps people from getting the best possible care.
The myth that addiction is a lack of willpower stops people from seeing their doctors and getting treatment that can help them rebuild their lives, relationships, and health.
Stigma harms well-being and quality of life.
As a result of harmful attitudes and stereotypes, people with addictions often face devastating consequences like discrimination in employment, loss of housing, and poor treatment from health care professionals.
Stigma leads to overdose deaths.
Fear of being judged or discriminated against can keep people from getting the help they need and increase their chances of dying from an overdose.
You can make a difference by creating a stigma-free environment in your family, community, workplace, and/or health care setting.