What is Stigma? We Asked a Top Stigma Researcher.



What is Stigma? We asked a top stigma researcher.


Substance use disorder (SUD) is one of the most stigmatized psychiatric conditions on earth. Yet many do not understand the effects of stigma on individuals and families, or how we can stop it. Dr. Valerie Earnshaw from the University of Delaware explains that stigma "emerges at the co-occurence of labeling, stereotyping, separation, status loss and discrimination within a power context." Stigma occurs when a certain characteristic or a chronic illness like substance use disorder is seen as an "indicators of a tarnished character or certain people being seen as less than or worse than other people," Dr. Earnshaw futher explains.

How Do We Stop Stigma?


Stigma interventions includes programs at the structural level that include policy changes; programs at the perceiver level, including contact-based intervention and changing the language around addiction; and initiatives to support targets of stigma through counseling and social support.


"The good news is that science tells us that we do have many tools at our disposal, says Dr. Earnshaw. "We have a lot of demolition experts on our side, a lot of fantastic people who are using the tools in exciting and important ways to stop the stigma."


Join us today in spreading the word that addiction is a health condition that is both preventable and treatable.


The Addiction Policy Forum and the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation have launched a nationwide campaign entitled “Stop the Stigma: Tackling the Stigma of Addiction through Education.”