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People Who Perceive Stigma Less Likely to Seek Treatment for Alcohol Disorders

Posted in Alcoholism Treatment

A new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that people diagnosed with alcoholism were about 60 percent less likely to seek treatment if they felt they would be stigmatized once others found out about their diagnosis. This is the first study to look at the stigma related to alcoholism and the under-use of treatment.

The researchers looked at 34,653 individuals from the general population (6,309 of whom were diagnosed with an alcohol-use disorder) who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), and found that people who perceived negative stigma about addiction were 0.37 times less likely to seek treatment than those who did not perceive negative stigma.

Generally, younger people perceived less stigma but were also less likely to seek alcohol treatment. Men perceived more stigma than women, and non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic adults also perceived more stigma than whites and were less likely to use treatment services. Those with more severe alcohol disorders were more likely to seek treatment.

Perceived stigma was greater for those with lower income, lower education, and those who had been married compared to those who had never been married.

Katherine Keyes, PhD,, of the Mailman School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, said that people with alcohol disorders who perceive stigma may avoid treatment because it confirms that they are members of a stigmatized group. She added that because alcohol disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States, more attention should be paid to reducing the stigma of having an alcohol disorder. More people need to be able to access treatment without fearing stigma.

Source: Science Daily, Stigma Deters Those With Alcohol Disorders from Seeking Treatment, Study Finds, December 3, 2010