Exclusion and hospitality: the subtle dynamics of stigma in healthcare access for people emerging from alcohol and other drug treatment Academic Article uri icon


  • This article explores the role of drug use-related stigma in constraining access to healthcare services. Drawing on interviews with 20 people conducted shortly after leaving an Australian alcohol and other drug withdrawal management unit, the article explores their willingness and ability to access primary care, hospital and further services. It finds repeated descriptions of feeling ignored and shamed during efforts to access care, with some descriptions relating to subtle signs of disapproval or condemnation, and others to being ignored or dismissed. Some accounts additionally emphasise unwelcoming atmospheres, and exclusion by omission of signals of welcome and encouragement. The article goes on to consider, for the first time in this field, contemporary notions of welcome and hospitality as outlined within the cosmopolitanism tradition, asking whether they offer insights into how healthcare may become more accessible for people who regularly experience stigmatisation. In concluding, the article considers the need to think further about forms of exclusion that occur when social and individual histories of stigma are not institutionally recognised, and measures to counter these histories are not actively adopted.

publication date

  • 2020