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Study identifies key indicators of stigma toward individuals who use methamphetamines

Findings from JCOIN’s Methodology and Advanced Analytics Resource Center (MAARC)

A study recently published in Preventive Medicine Reports by researchers at the University of Chicago and NORC identified several factors associated with higher stigma towards individuals who use methamphetamines.


Six variables were significantly associated with higher stigma: older age, higher household income, married status, Republican party affiliation, no history of methamphetamine use, and a higher racism score. The study also showed higher levels of internalized stigma among Black respondents who have a history of methamphetamine use.


“It is crucial to address the stigma associated with substance use, in particular towards individuals who use methamphetamines,” says Dr. Bruce Taylor, a senior fellow with NORC at the University of Chicago. “By tackling this issue, we can make a positive impact on the nation's public health efforts to reduce adverse outcomes related to methamphetamine use.”


Stigma refers to a process through which individuals are discriminated against, devalued, rejected, or excluded as a result of belonging to a socially discredited group. Stigma is a significant barrier to the treatment of individuals with substance use disorders (SUD). Individuals with SUD who experience stigma are more likely to continue engaging in substance use (Tsai et al., 2019), have greater delays in treatment access and higher rates of dropout (Corrigan et al., 2006), and show reduced help-seeking behaviors (Stangl et al., 2019).


Decreasing stigma associated with specific health conditions involves increasing knowledge levels to counteract education gaps and misconceptions. Study authors expressed that targeted interventions or public education campaigns that are tailored toward specific populations may be needed to help deconstruct the stigma associated with methamphetamine use and individuals with a history of methamphetamine use.


The cross-sectional national survey was administered to participants as part of the NORC’s AmeriSpeak®, a probability-based ongoing panel of over 35,000 households. The study utilized a 10-item social stigma scale to examine social stigma toward methamphetamine use. Researchers also collected demographics, political party affiliation, history of methamphetamine use, criminal legal system involvement history, and endorsement of racial attitudes and discrimination (using the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS)). A total of 6,515 adults participated in this study and completed the survey. Of those, 727 reported a history of methamphetamine use.


This study was led by researchers Drs. John Flores, Bruce Taylor (NORC), Aniruddha Harza, Harold Pollack, Mai T. Pho, and John Schnieder, from the University of Chicago.




Flores, J., Taylor, B., Hazra, A., Pollack, H., Pho, M. T., & Schneider, J. (2023). Stigma towards persons who use methamphetamine: Results from a nationally representative survey of U.S. Adults. Preventive Medicine Reports, 36, 102496. 


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