Addiction Stigma in the US Legal System

  • Joseph J. AveryEmail author


The legal community has a complex relationship with individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs). The law punishes much drug use, of course, but it also simultaneously protects individuals with SUDs (through partial recognition of addiction as a mental disorder) and disadvantages them (through restrictions on when such a conception can be used as a legal defense). What is clear is that when it comes to treatment of individuals with substance-related charges, race matters. Within the law, there is racialized drug stigma. Beyond the criminal justice system, addiction stigma and the law collide in two important areas: one, societal treatment of individuals who were formerly incarcerated for drug offenses and, two, stigma against attorneys who struggle with SUDs. Much research in this area remains to be done, including the study of intersectional stigmas.


Substance use disorders Drug offenses Racialized drug stigma The legal system Criminal justice 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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