Stigma, Substance Use, and Help-Seeking Attitudes Among Rural and Urban Individuals

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Abstract

The current study examined the differences between public stigma, self-stigma, substance use (i.e., alcohol and/or drugs), and attitudes toward psychological help-seeking among rural and urban individuals, and found meaningful differences in public stigma by alcohol use. Two hundred and sixty participants recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk completed an online survey that included the Perceptions of Stigmatization by Others for Seeking Help scale, the Self-Stigma of Seeking Help scale, the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help scale, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, the Drug Abuse Screening Test–10, and demographics. The authors found significant between-groups differences in public stigma for individuals who screened positive for an alcohol use disorder compared to those who used alcohol but did not meet the screening threshold. This finding suggested that there may be differences in stigmatization between individuals who only occasionally use alcohol and those with an alcohol use disorder. There were no significant differences in self-stigma or attitudes toward psychological help-seeking. Moreover, there were no significant between-groups differences based on DAST-10 scores for individuals who did not report drug use, individuals who reported using drugs, and those who screened positive for a substance use disorder on public stigma, self-stigma, or attitudes toward psychological help-seeking. Contrary to the authors’ hypothesis, the results did not demonstrate any significant differences between public stigma, self-stigma, or attitudes toward psychological help-seeking based on rurality (i.e., rural or urban). The authors highlight areas for future research focus and considerations when further examining stigma, substance use, and help-seeking attitudes among rural and urban individuals.

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