Effects of Stigma

Stigma brings negative experiences and feelings followed by actions that result with the loss of
treatment and recovery opportunities.

Person Living with Addiction

  • Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others they know
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school and/or social activities
  • Trouble finding housing
  • Being bullied or harassed
  • Reluctance to seek help or treatment
  • Health insurance doesn’t adequately cover treatment
  • Doctors inaccurately attribute physical symptoms and behaviors to a person’s substance use
    disorder known as diagnostic overshadowing.


  • Families reported they have fewer social connections
  • They feel shame and responsibility
  • They feel blamed when the family member living with addiction does not go through
    with treatment plan

Types of Stigma*

Public Stigma:
General public endorses stereotypes and prejudices that result in discrimination against people with mental illness. 
(Corrigan, Rose, Tsangm 2011)

Also called internalized stigma, happens when a person with mental illness or substance use disorder endorses negative stereotypes about themselves. (Barney, Griffiths, Jorm, &, Christensen, 2006)

Perceived Stigma
Belief that stigmatizing ideas about mental illness and substance use disorders are held by others. (Brohan, Gauci, Sartorius, Thornicroft, 2011)

Label avoidance
Choose not to seek mental health or substance use treatment to avoid being assigned a stigmatizing label, this can be the most dangerous type of stigma. (Corrigan, Watson, Byme & Davis, 2005)

Stigma by Association
The effects of stigma are extended to someone linked to a person with mental health difficulties. (Van der Sanden et al, 2013)

Health Professional Stigma
Any time a health professional allows negative views of mental illness or substance use disorders to affect the care of a patient. (Grappone, 2016) 

Structural Stigma
Laws, institutional policies or other societal structures that result in decreased opportunities for people with mental illness or substance use disorders. (Corrigan, Markowitz & Watson, 2003)

* Used by permission from Gretchen Grappone's Overcoming Stigma presentation.