A comparison of substance use stigma and health stigma in a population of veterans with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders
Byrne, Thomas H.
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CitationA Harnish, P Corrigan, TH Byrne, D Pinals, S Rodrigues, D Smelson. 2016. "A comparison of substance use stigma and health stigma in a population of veterans with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders." Journal of Dual Diagnosis, Volume 11, Issue 3-4, pp. 238 - 243.
OBJECTIVE: This pilot study examined whether substance use or mental illness was more stigmatizing among individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems. METHODS: This study included 48 individuals with co-occurring substance use and mental health problems enrolled in a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services funded treatment program. Subjects received a baseline assessment that included addiction, mental health, and stigma measures. RESULTS: The sample consisted primarily of White males with an average age of 38 years. Substance abuse was found to be more stigmatizing than mental illness, F(1, 47) = 14.213, p < .001, and stigma varied across four different levels of stigma (Aware, Agree, Apply, and Harm), F(2.099, 98.675) = 117.883, p < .001. The interaction between type and level of stigma was also significant, F(2.41, 113.284) = 20.250, p < .001, indicating that differences in reported stigma between types varied across levels of stigma. Post hoc tests found a significant difference between all levels of stigma except for the comparison between Apply and Harm. Reported stigma was significantly higher for substance abuse than mental illness at the Aware and Agree levels. In addition, pairwise comparisons found significant differences between all levels of stigma with the exception of the comparison between Apply and Harm, indicating a pattern whereby reported stigma generally decreased from the first level (Aware stage) to subsequent levels. CONCLUSIONS: These results have important implications for treatment, suggesting the need to incorporate anti-stigma interventions for individuals with co-occurring disorders with a greater focus on substance abuse.