Relentless Stigma: A Qualitative Analysis of a Substance Use Recovery Needs Assessment

Stephany Medina, Anna Van Deelen, Robyn Tomaszewski, Keri Hager, Nathaniel Chen, Laura Palombi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Substance use disorders (SUD) pose emotional, mental, and physical threats to persons worldwide. There is a paucity of research focused on capturing individual perspectives on supports and barriers to recovery from a SUD. This need has been identified in areas of Minnesota where a gap in evidence-based substance use support exists. A team of interdisciplinary professionals distributed a qualitative survey assessing supports and barriers to SUD recovery within recovery circles in order to inform the efforts of local organizations. This paper and online access survey was adapted from an existing survey created by Faces and Voices of Recovery. The online survey was accessed by a link and distributed to persons in recovery across Minnesota over 7 months. Data from this survey were analyzed through a consensual qualitative research (CQR) coding method. Notable themes emerged in the following domains: healthcare, environment, individual, and community. Community-wide stigma was an overarching concern, and the study yielded unique insights into stigma within healthcare and the community at-large. Barriers and support to recovery were reported. Barriers included experiencing high levels of stigma and identifying a need for community education on SUDs and recovery. Support included local recovery groups, peer recovery support, and access to healthcare and medication. Our findings illuminate the needs of the recovery community from the perspective of individuals with lived experience and will inform local organizations in specifying resources to help meet the identified needs. This survey may also be adapted and used around the world to inform substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery programing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSubstance Abuse: Research and Treatment
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grant UL1TR002494, through the University of Minnesota CTSI “U is for U” award program.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Substance use disorder
  • community needs assessment
  • consensual qualitative research
  • recovery supports
  • stigma

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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