Stigma refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors toward a group of people due to their life circumstances. It consists of discrimination, prejudice, judgment, and stereotypes, which can lead to the isolation of people who use.


People who use drugs, especially those battling addiction, face discrimination and obstacles in obtaining assistance. The negative stigma around substance use disorder often keeps people from seeking treatment. Let’s start a conversation about the reasons for substance use disorder, the words we use, and why. Together we have the power to change someone’s life and even save it.



  • Occurs when someone internalizes negative messages about people who use drugs and applies them to themselves.
  • Can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of shame.
  • Can prevent someone from seeking help out of fear of being judged or discriminated against.
  • Can lead someone to hide their drug use or use drugs alone.


Social Stigma

  • Negative attitudes or behaviors toward people who use drugs or their friends and family members.
  • Negative labels and images in everyday conversation and the media.
  • Talking about addiction as if it's a choice.
  • Judgment and discrimination from others can lead to self-stigma and cause harm, such as not seeking help or using drugs alone.


Organizational Stigma

  • Health and social service policies that contribute to stigmatization if they withhold services until drug use is better managed.
  • If healthcare professionals do not take people affected by drug use seriously.
  • If workplace policies cause harm and inadvertently encourage people to hide their drug use or prevent them from seeking assistance; (for example unnecessary drug tests.)
  • Failing to connect individuals with health or social services due to their drug use and providing substandard care when services are accessed.



Download and share


Support the Share Facts Save Lives campaign with shareable content. These materials can be used to educate and create a path towards recovery.


Treatment and recovery support


Access to mapping tools related to SUD treatment, such as residential treatment facilities, withdrawal resources, recovery residence options, and more.


Know your options


OPTIONS Maine liaisons  serve as a judgment-free point of contact who will meet people where they are in terms of their substance use.

2-1-1 Maine

Services directory


2-1-1 is a free, confidential information and referral service based in Maine available 24/7 that connects people of all ages to local services.