Stigma is discrimination or prejudice. Stigma is treatment based on class or category rather than individual merits. Instead of bringing or holding people together, prejudice and discrimination pushes them apart. Prejudice and discrimination always implies some sort of relationship between groups of people. Prejudice is an example of interactions based on hatred, fear or a perceived threat (International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict, 1998). Prejudice occurs when a group of people defines itself in terms of what it is not, such as, “not an addict” and when that group holds negative stereotypes of the other group, such as “addicts always lie.”
People who are stigmatized are not given the opportunity to prove the belief is wrong. Prejudice toward people who have experienced addiction is wide spread. They may be seen as untrustworthy, lazy, violent, emotionally unstable, unpredictable, or undependable. These negative beliefs reflect prejudices that people who have experienced addiction will need to challenge and overcome.