"Changing The Conversation initiated the first intensive exploration of the stigmas and attitudes that affect people with alcohol and drug problems. The Panel addressed stigma as a powerful, shame-based mark of disgrace and reproach that impedes treatment and recovery. Prejudicial attitudes and beliefs generate and perpetuate stigma; therefore, people suffering from alcohol and/or drug problems and those in recovery are often ostracized, discriminated against, and deprived of basic human rights. Their families, treatment providers, and even researchers may face comparable stigmas and attitudes. Ironically, stigmatized individuals often endorse the attitudes and practices that stigmatize them. They may internalize this thinking and behavior, which consequently becomes part of their identity and sense of self-worth.

"Public support and public policy are influenced by addiction stigma. Addiction stigma delays acknowledging the disease and inhibits prevention, care, treatment, and research. It diminishes the life opportunities of the stigmatized."


US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Changing the Conversation: Improving Substance Abuse Treatment: The National Treatment Plan Initiative; Panel Reports, Public Hearings, and Participant Acknowledgements, Washington, DC: SAMHSA, November 2000.