Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Stigma and Barriers to Treatment

  • “Stigma is typically a social process, experienced or anticipated, characterized by exclusion, rejection, blame or devaluation that results from experience or reasonable anticipation of an adverse social judgment about a person or group” (Martin & Johnston, 2007, p.8)
  • Stigma can lead to discrimination and marginalization with detrimental effects for clients, families and communities of people (decreased self esteem, increased isolation and vulnerability, higher likelihood that people will not access services).
  • Stigma associated with substance-dependence is often a strong deterrent for person seeking help. These include attitudes of health care professionals that reflect societal stigma (i.e. MMT only perpetuates drug use by replacing one addictive opioid for another).
  • Nurses are in a unique position to address stigma of all kinds and to reduce the barriers to care. One way to accomplish this task is to help educate others about the nature of addiction and the benefits of programs such as MMT
Addiction and Mental Health
Supporting Clients on Methadone Maintenance Treatment
Background Information