Stigma and Social Support in Pharmaceutical Opioid Treatment Populations: a Scoping Review

Sasha Cooper, Suzanne Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Pharmaceutical opioid (PO) use and harms are increasing dramatically. Treatment related stigma may present as a treatment barrier for people who use PO. Additionally, differences in social support between PO and other opioid treatment populations may positively influence treatment outcomes. A scoping methodology was utilised to map current knowledge, with searches performed in Medline, PsycINFO and Embase. Eligibility criteria required articles related to stigma and social support in treatment for PO use. The search identified 44 relevant articles. Stigma themes included individual perceptions of opioid dependence, community perceptions of opioid dependence, blame as a stigmatising factor, language surrounding opioid use, and treatment experience. Social support themes included family as support, web-based support, friends as support, partners as support and social network therapy. Limited literature was found focussing specifically on stigma and social support in people who use PO, highlighting that this is an important area for future work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-469
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Opioid dependence
  • Opioid substitution therapy
  • Opioid treatment
  • Pharmaceutical opioids
  • Social support
  • Stigma

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