NHS Health Scotland



A. Evidence for interventions to reduce stigma associated with substance misuse (Families model)


There is evidence from one systematic review that a range of interventions may influence positive outcomes in reducing social and structural stigma associated with substance misuse.


There is evidence that communicating positive stories of people with substance use disorders reduced stigmatising attitudes among the general public towards heroin and alcohol dependence. However, information factsheets did not achieve meaningful change in stigmatising attitudes among the general public.

In relation to professional groups, the available evidence suggests educational interventions targeting medical students achieve enhanced results when contact-based approaches facilitating interaction with people with substance misuse problems are included in training and curricular. There was evidence of improving attitudes and comfort levels towards working with this population, with significant increases in comfort found from specialist prenatal clinic placements working with pregnant women with substance use disorders. Finally, skills training working with police officers and interventions targeting substance use counsellors have also demonstrated positive effects on stigma-related outcomes. [1]





  1. Livingston, J. D. Milne, T. Fang, M. L. Amari, E. (2011) The effectiveness of interventions for reducing stigma related to substance use disorders: a systematic review. Addiction; 107:39–50..