Stigma of Addiction in the Media

  • Emma E. McGintyEmail author
  • Alene Kennedy-Hendricks
  • Colleen L. Barry


The media play a significant role in shaping stigmatizing attitudes toward populations experiencing health problems, including addiction. Research suggests that the media often depict individuals experiencing addiction, especially drug addiction, in a negative light. Most causal frames in the media have emphasized individual culpability in explaining addiction. Given that the news media are a key source of information about health issues for many Americans, such depictions likely contribute to widespread stigmatizing attitudes toward individuals with substance use disorders. In response, several promising efforts at correcting addiction stigma in the media are underway, including ones initiated by the Associated Press and by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy. Moreover, limited experimental research suggests that media narratives can be harnessed for good: messages that combine sympathetic depictions of individuals with substance use disorders with messages about societal barriers to treatment may work to reduce stigmatizing attitudes.


Stigma Media Media depictions Stigmatizing language News Entertainment Substance use disorders 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emma E. McGinty
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alene Kennedy-Hendricks
    • 1
  • Colleen L. Barry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and ManagementJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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