Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Michael Gawrysiak, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stevie Grassetti, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ekeoma Uzogara, Ph.D.


Stigma continues to be a prevalent issue for individuals suffering from substance use disorder, contributing to ostracization and discrimination. Along with the psychological and social consequences of addiction, substance abuse has effects on family. Children often experience trauma and/or deficits because of a relative’s problematic drug use. The impact of parental and familial drug abuse on children has been examined, however, an important, yet significantly less studied consequence is the effect of drug abuse on the child’s level of stigma toward addiction. The present study examined stigma towards individuals suffering from addiction and trauma-exposure among college students (N=555). Survey items included the Perceived Stigma of Addiction Scale, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Scale, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, the Life Events Checklist, and the PTSD Checklist to assess the link between familial drug abuse, trauma experienced in childhood, and stigma toward addiction. Study hypotheses were that: overall, children who were raised in a household where a relative was abusing drugs/alcohol (FDAU-Yes) would be more likely to stigmatize addiction than those who were not (FDAU-No), these results would remain true even when controlling for trauma and PTSD symptoms, and that children who were raised in a household where an relative was abusing drugs/alcohol would experience higher levels of childhood trauma than those who were not. Group comparisons revealed that the FDAU-Yes group showed significantly higher levels of stigma than the FDAU-No group, even when controlling for trauma-exposure and PTSD symptoms. The FDAU-Yes group also experienced significantly more trauma and PTSD symptoms than the FDAU-No group.