Risk Factors for Self-stigma among Incarcerated Women with Alcohol Use Disorder

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Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a highly stigmatized condition, often associated with negative stereotypes such as being morally weak, incompetent, unpredictable, and aggressive. People with AUD are at risk of experiencing self-stigma, a social-cognitive experience in which people think others hold negative stereotypes about them, expect to be treated unfairly, and/or believe that negative stereotypes are personally accurate. Women in the criminal justice system with AUD in particular are at risk of experiencing self-stigma due to intersecting sources of disadvantage. Given that self-stigma can lead to treatment avoidance and dropout, it is important to understand risk factors for self-stigma to inform prevention and intervention efforts in the justice system. Incarcerated women with AUD (=185) completed measures of alcohol self-stigma as well as a variety of theoretically relevant risk factors including sociodemographics, baseline levels of stress and depression, and alcohol-related factors (i.e., length of drinking history, frequency/amount of use, consequences of use, physician advice to stop, belief that legal involvement is related to alcohol use, alcohol-related charges, self-efficacy to quit, readiness for treatment, pressures to enter treatment, factors that influence treatment) and other stigmatized conditions (drug use, exchanging sex, and homelessness). Results showed that experiencing more consequences of alcohol use, pressures to enter treatment, and perceived stress were associated with internalized stigma and anticipated/enacted stigma. This study begins to identify which incarcerated women with AUD are most at risk of experiencing self-stigma that may interfere with alcohol treatment.