Recognition and stigma of prescription drug abuse disorder: personal and community determinants [2020]

Prescription drug abuse (PDA) disorders continue to contribute to the current American opioid crisis. Within this context, our study seeks to improve understanding about stigma associated with, and symptom recognition of, prescription drug abuse.

Model the stigma and symptom recognition of PDA in the general population.

A randomized, nation-wide, online, vignette-focused survey of the general public (N = 631) was implemented with an oversample for rural counties. Logit estimation was used for analysis, with regional and county-level sociodemographic variables as controls.

Individual respondents that self-identify as having or having had “a prescription drug abuse issue” were less likely to correctly identify the condition and were 4 times more likely to exhibit stigma. Male respondents were approximately half as likely to correctly identify PDA as female respondents while older respondents (55+) were more likely to correctly identify PDA, relative to those aged 35–54. Being both male and younger was associated with slightly more stigma, in that they were less likely to disagree with the stigma statement.

In light of the continued risks that individuals with PDA behaviors face in potentially transitioning to illicit opioid use, the findings of this survey suggested a continued need for public education and outreach. Of particular note is the perspective of those who have self-identified with the condition, as this population faces the largest risks of adverse health outcomes from illicit drug use within the survey respondents.

Robert Shupp, Scott Loveridge, Mark Skidmore, Brandn Green & Don Albrecht
BMC Public Health, volume 20, Article number: 977 (2020)