eISSN: 1689-3530
ISSN: 0867-4361
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction/Alkoholizm i Narkomania
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2/2019
vol. 32
 
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abstract:
Original paper

Authoritarianism, attitudes toward harm reduction and the stigmatisation of people who use drugs

Geoff J. Bathje
,
Daniel Pillersdorf
,
Steve N. Du Bois

Alcohol Drug Addict 2019; 32 (2): 77-86
Online publish date: 2019/08/30
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Introduction
While much research has been conducted in the past two decades on the stigma of mental health, relatively little has been published on the stigma of drug use and addiction, or attitudes toward harm reduction efforts. Although harm reduction is an approach particularly well suited for reducing the negative outcomes of drug use at a time when overdoses continue to escalate, negative opinions and anti-drug policies often interfere with the operation and funding of such programmes.

Material and methods
A diverse group of students in the United States (N = 193) completed an online assessment of authoritarian beliefs, familiarity with addictions, familiarity with intravenous drug use, stigmatisation of people who use drugs and attitudes toward harm reduction programming. We tested two mediation models to examine the relationship between authoritarianism, stigmatisation of people who use drugs and attitudes toward harm reduction, with familiarity to people experiencing addiction and injecting drugs as moderators.

Results
Authoritarianism was significantly associated with both attitudes toward harm reduction and stigmatisation of people who use drugs, with the relationship fully mediated by familiarity with people who inject drugs or who are experiencing addiction.

Discussion
The results of our study suggest that providing accurate and non-stigmatising information about drugs may reduce stigma and encourage openness to harm reduction programming.

Conclusions
As fatal drug overdoses and hepatitis C infections are continuing to rise, it is important to remove the barriers to both the creation and utilisation of harm reduction services.

keywords:

Harm reduction, Stigma, Drug use, Addiction, Authoritarianism

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