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      “Don’t Judge a Book Its Cover”: A Qualitative Study of Methadone Patients’ Experiences of Stigma

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          Despite its efficacy and widespread use, methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) continues to be widely stigmatized. Reducing the stigma surrounding MMT will help improve the accessibility, retention, and treatment outcomes in MMT.


          Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 adults undergoing MMT. Thematic content analysis was used to identify overarching themes.


          In total, 78% of participants reported having experienced stigma surrounding MMT. Common stereotypes associated with MMT patients included the following: methadone as a way to get high, incompetence, untrustworthiness, lack of willpower, and heroin junkies. Participants reported that stigma resulted in lower self-esteem; relationship conflicts; reluctance to initiate, access, or continue MMT; and distrust toward the health care system. Public awareness campaigns, education of health care workers, family therapy, and community meetings were cited as potential stigma-reduction strategies.


          Stigma is a widespread and serious issue that adversely affects MMT patients’ quality of life and treatment. More efforts are needed to combat MMT-related stigma.

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          Most cited references 41

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            The objective of this study was to estimate the societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Costs were grouped into three categories: health care, workplace, and criminal justice. Costs were estimated by 1) quantity method, which multiplies the number of opioid abuse patients by cost per opioid abuse patient; and 2) apportionment method, which begins with overall costs of drug abuse per component and apportions the share associated with prescription opioid abuse based on relative prevalence of prescription opioid to overall drug abuse. Excess health care costs per patient were based on claims data analysis of privately insured and Medicaid beneficiaries. Other data/information were derived from publicly available survey and other secondary sources. Total US societal costs of prescription opioid abuse were estimated at $55.7 billion in 2007 (USD in 2009). Workplace costs accounted for $25.6 billion (46%), health care costs accounted for $25.0 billion (45%), and criminal justice costs accounted for $5.1 billion (9%). Workplace costs were driven by lost earnings from premature death ($11.2 billion) and reduced compensation/lost employment ($7.9 billion). Health care costs consisted primarily of excess medical and prescription costs ($23.7 billion). Criminal justice costs were largely comprised of correctional facility ($2.3 billion) and police costs ($1.5 billion).   The costs of prescription opioid abuse represent a substantial and growing economic burden for the society. The increasing prevalence of abuse suggests an even greater societal burden in the future. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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              Major depression and comorbid substance use disorders.

              The presentation of major depressive disorder is often complicated by the co-occurrence of substance use disorders, such as alcohol and illicit drug abuse or dependence. The article reviews the recent systematic research on the distinguishing baseline characteristics including demographic characteristics and the influence of family history, and clinical features such as depressive symptomatology and suicidal ideation, and the outcome of treatment for depression in patients with comorbid major depressive disorder and substance use disorders. The review also addresses the possible explanations cited in the literature as to why these two disorders tend to co-occur and the implications of the comorbidity of these illnesses on treatment. Nearly one-third of patients with major depressive disorder also have substance use disorders, and the comorbidity yields higher risk of suicide and greater social and personal impairment as well as other psychiatric conditions. Although the treatment of comorbid major depressive disorder and substance use disorders with medication is likely effective, the differential treatment effects based on substance use disorder comorbidity have been understudied. Emerging results of recent studies comparing the outcome of major depressive disorder patients with comorbid major depressive disorder and substance use disorders suggest that there are fewer differential effects based on comorbidity than previously anticipated by older assumptions from smaller, less methodologically rigorous studies.

                Author and article information

                Subst Abuse
                Subst Abuse
                Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment
                Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment
                SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
                23 March 2017
                : 11
                [1 ]Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
                [2 ]Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
                [3 ]Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
                [4 ]Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
                [5 ]MiNDS Neuroscience Graduate Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
                [6 ]Population Genomics Program, Chanchlani Research Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
                Author notes
                CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Zainab Samaan, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada. Email: samaanz@ 123456mcmaster.ca

                J.W. and A.B. are co-first authors.

                © The Author(s) 2017

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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