Meth shame a barrier to treatment new study reveals

A NEW study identifies embarrassment and stigma as being among the biggest barriers to methamphetamine users looking for help with addiction.

The research identified a belief that help that was not needed, a preference to withdraw without help and privacy concerns as other deterrents to reaching for support.

Craig Cumming, from The University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health, led the study, assisted by researchers from the University of Melbourne and National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University.

They presented their findings at the recent APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference in Sydney.

Assessment of the barriers to meth treatment involved a review of 11 studies carried out in Australia, US, UK, South Africa and China.

Mr Cumming said the benefits of treatment far outweighed the costs when compared to improvements in health, social and justice outcomes and related economic costs.

He said stigma and shame associated with accessing treatment could be exacerbated by sensationalising the negative health, social and criminal issues associated with methamphetamine use.

Advertising campaigns that used shock or fear tactics needed to emphasise the treatment options available in order to be effective, he said.

“What our study shows is that any kind of intervention that encourages users to seek treatment needs to target these major barriers and particularly those that address and reduce the stigma associated with meth use,” he said.

“Meth users often also experience mental health problems, so there also needs to be greater integration between alcohol and other drug support and mental health services.”

Narcotics Anonymous recently launched a group in Midland to increase the global group’s addicts-in-recovery meetings across Perth to more than 30 a week.