Stigma towards drug addiction is a research field largely untouched. Even fewer studies look at stigma related to drug addiction among adolescents. A teenager’s developmental stage, their personal experiences, and peer pressure make this period an unpredictable one. Add immigration experiences to those factors, and teenagers’ perceptions and attitudes will vary even more. How do teens from different immigration backgrounds feel about drug addiction? To better understand this issue, Ontario researchers looked at information gathered from 4,078 students who participated in the 2005 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. Students were 12 to 19 years old, and were attending public schools in Ontario (grades 7-12). These students were asked how they felt about drug addiction and people addicted to drugs, and about their own experience with drugs.
The researchers found that the teens from different immigration generations (first, second, third generation) stigmatized drug addiction differently. But their attitudes towards drug addiction are shaped more by their own use of drugs or their friends’ use of drugs, than by their immigration status.
The researchers noted that stigma can be both a good and bad thing. Although it can stop teens from engaging with drugs, it may cause those who are addicted to drugs to be more hesitant about getting help.
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