Exploring Social Stigma toward Opioid and Heroin Users among Students Enrolled in Criminology, Nursing, and EMT/Paramedic Courses [2020]

The goal of the current study was to empirically assess social stigma toward opioid and heroin using persons with a sample of 743 students majoring in programs (i.e., criminology, nursing, and EMT/Paramedic) related to careers associated with first responders and healthcare providers. Consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of prior works, results from factor analyses revealed that there are four unique components of social stigma toward opioid and heroin users—dangerousness, blame, social distance, and fatalism. Additionally, findings from a series of multivariate regression models show that beliefs about addiction and exposure to heroin/opioid users are significant predictors of stigma toward opioid and heroin using persons. Results also suggest that students who associate drug use with minorities and unemployment tend to place greater social stigma on opioid and heroin users. Study limitations and implications regarding college coursework on substance use and addiction are discussed.

Nathan E. Kruis & Jaeyong Choi
Journal of Criminal Justice Education, Volume 31, 2020 – Issue 3