Gender, substance abuse, and stigmatization: an exploratory study

The use as well as misuse of methamphetamines remains a significant social issue in the United States. Little is known about the impact stigma has on treatment recommendations for women who use methamphetamine, particularly mothers. This research attempts to understand if CSUS undergraduate social work students have preconceived gender bias when working with individuals who are drug abusers, particularly mothers who use methamphetamine. This study utilizes a vignette embedded, randomized cross sectional experimental survey with a quantitative descriptive research design in order to identify any potential gender bias and stigmatization of women methamphetamine users. Data was collected from 91 CSUS BASW students and electronically inputted and analyzed using the SPSS system. While there were no significant associations between gender of the client or the status of motherhood when recommending treatment for methamphetamine users, the data did suggest that personal experience with drug addiction as well as previous personal experience with drug addiction is associated with a greater probability of recommendation of treatment. Personal experience also influenced the student’s perception of whether they perceived the client’s problem were caused by his/her choice. The project concludes with an in-depth discussion of findings as well as implications for social work and recommendations for further research.