Health Negative stereotypes hamper drug users’ recovery

Negative stereotypes hamper drug users’ recovery

Recovering drug addicts who believe they are the target of negative stereotyping find it harder to function within society, according to a study led by University of Queensland School of Psychology researcher Dr Courtney von Hippel.

“People with a history of drug abuse are often regarded as irresponsible, unreliable and less trustworthy,” Dr von Hippel said.

“This societal disapproval can result in feelings of ‘stereotype threat’, or the belief that they’re the target of demeaning stereotypes.”

Dr von Hippel and her research team studied 80 people from a methadone outpatient program.

“Participants who reported high levels of stereotype threat in relation to their drug history also reported poorer social function,” Dr von Hippel said.

“Not surprisingly, we found that people on methadone maintenance had significantly poorer mental health and social functioning compared to a demographically matched control group.”

“We hope that examining the effects of stereotype threat could help in the development of appropriate treatment and intervention,” she said.

The research was conducted in collaboration with Professor Julie Henry of UQ, and Dr Gill Terrett, Dr Kimberly Mercuri, Ms Karen McAlear and Professor Peter Rendell of the Australian Catholic University.

Read more about the findings of this study here. Story credit: University of Queensland newsroom.

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