Treatment of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

Barry M Lester; Jean E Twomey


Women's Health. 2008;4(1):67-77. 

In This Article

Barriers to Treatment

The development of treatment programs for drug-using pregnant women surged as a result of the 'cocaine epidemic' of the 1980s. Despite the increased support and availability of treatment programs, there are serious barriers to treatment for pregnant substance users. Many programs have relied on male-based recovery models that focus on the individual and not the pregnant/postpartum addict within the context of her family or environment. In fact, it is often difficult for drug-using mothers to be accepted into programs. Many maternal substance users are reluctant to admit drug use for fear of losing custody of their children, or fear criminal prosecution, including negative attitudes by treatment providers, which drives them away from the healthcare system.[14] Lack of resources such as health insurance, transportation and child care, limited residential treatment programs that allow children to stay with their mothers, and staff without training to help the pregnant addict and her children, also dissuade mothers from accessing treatment. These factors contribute to the low numbers of pregnant substance users receiving prenatal care.


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