Stigma of Addiction in the Media
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.
KeywordsStigma Media Media depictions Stigmatizing language News Entertainment Substance use disorders
- 2.Associated Press. The Associated Press stylebook. 2017. https://store.stylebooks.com/apstylebookonline.html. Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
- 8.Denham BE. Folk devils, news icons and the construction of moral panics: heroin chic and the amplification of drug threats in contemporary society. Journal Stud. 2008;9(6):945–61.Google Scholar
- 34.Office of National Drug Control Policy. Changing the language of addiction. 2017. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/Memo%20-%20Changing%20Federal%20Terminology%20Regrading%20Substance%20Use%20and%20Substance%20Use%20Disorders.pdf. Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
- 35.Phillips LA, Shaw A. Substance use more stigmatized than smoking and obesity. J Subst Abus. 2013;18(4):247–53.Google Scholar
- 36.Poynter Institute. Covering the opioid crisis. 2017. https://www.poynter.org/news/how-address-challenges-covering-opioid-epidemic. Accessed 11 July 2018.
- 38.Scheufele DA, Tewksbury D. Framing, agenda setting, and priming: the evolution of three media effects models. J Commun. 2007;57(1):9–20.Google Scholar
- 41.The Carter Center. Carter Center releases national journalism guide for reporting on behavioral health. 2015. https://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/journalism-guide-behavioral-health-reporting.html. Accessed 18 Mar 2017.
- 42.The Carter Center (2017). The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. https://www.cartercenter.org/health/mental_health/fellowships/, Accessed March 18, 2017.
- 45.Zillman D, Brosius H. Exemplification in communication: the influence of case reports on the perception of issues. London: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates; 2000.Google Scholar