All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Belinda Needham

Advisory Committee Members

Shelia Cotten

Jalie Tucker

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


It is estimated that approximately 22 million Americans are in need of treatment for substance related disorders each year; however 20 million of those in need of substance treatment fail to utilize formal treatment services. The large gap between those who need formal treatment services and those who receive such services indicates that a better understanding of factors affecting treatment utilization is needed. Researchers have shown that stigmatizing attitudes towards substance use disorders are a leading cause for treatment delay and avoidance. Furthermore, gender role theories suggest that women may experience greater stigma (double stigma or triple stigma) related to substance use than men due to their violation of female gender norms. Drawing on gender role theories, I hypothesized that women with unmet need would report more stigma related barriers to substance treatment than would men with unmet need. Furthermore, I hypothesized that mothers would report more stigma related barriers than non-mothers with unmet need. The primary objective of this study was examine if the experience of stigma as a barrier to formal substance treatment varies by gender using a nationally representative sample of individuals with unmet need for treatment for substance use disorders. Data were pooled across eight years of the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Results from three logistic regression models suggested that female substance users with unmet need reported more stigma related barriers than their male counterparts; however this relationship was reduced to non-significance when education and race were controlled. Furthermore, mothers did not report greater stigma related barriers than non-mothers. The results suggested that higher levels of education and identifying as White were most strongly correlated with stigma as a barrier to substance treatment. Given the large gap between individuals who are in need of treatment, and those who avail themselves of such services, these results point to a need for better understanding of the ways in which social statuses affect stigma as a barrier to substance treatment.



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