It's Not Denial, It's Stigma: A Case Study

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Nursing

Publication Date


Document Type



Infectious Disease | Nursing | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Virus Diseases


Addictions nurses often encounter barriers to care for clients such as stigma, especially in settings outside addictions specialty care. This article utilizes a case-study format to show and discuss concepts related to client engagement in recovery and overcoming stigma. Laura, a 65-year-old woman, presents with a worsening of her alcohol use disorder in the setting of a recent retirement, worsening symptoms of major depressive disorder, and the stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. She presents with her depression and is reluctant to discuss her alcohol use, after a past experience in a program that utilized a confrontational approach. Her primary care provider describes her as "in denial," but this case study will discuss elements including stigma, self-stigma, and the culture of addictions treatment and their impact on recovery. Finally, this presentation will describe how the addictions nurse can leverage a person-centered and recovery-oriented approach to promote engagement and positive problem solving with the client and the care team.


Alcohol Use Disorder, Case Study, Recovery, Self-Stigma, Stigma, COVID-19

DOI of Published Version



Harding S. It's Not Denial, It's Stigma: A Case Study. J Addict Nurs. 2021 Oct-Dec 01;32(4):263-265. doi: 10.1097/JAN.0000000000000438. PMID: 34855326. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of addictions nursing

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID