stigma, The Expectant Mothers Treatment Program, treatment

Stigma & Fear

I was doing more research today for our big presentation on June 5th (more to come!) and I read some disturbing yet accurate articles about the stigma pregnant women (and others) suffering from addiction face. You might first think stigma is something you may have experienced back in high school when. you wore the wrong clothes or said something unexpected in class. Well, you’d be right in that stigma is a lot like judgment, but you’re wrong if you think all that ended in high school.

Today we were talking yet again about how to find our patients for our treatment program, but couldn’t make a decision. How do we reach them? There is no cultural or social gathering place for pregnant women taking drugs. It is judged so harshly by society that support groups or gatherings are almost unheard of. They usually (not always, but often) lack a social circle or group, because they are embarrassed or hiding either the addiction, the pregnancy, or both. They don’t go to the doctor’s office because of the stigma they face from the Ob-Gyn, doctor, or nurses. Or maybe they are more concerned with scoring drugs than attending prenatal visits. They avoid contact with almost everyone, so how do we reach out to this population?

The sad recommendation came up after yet another brainstorming session. We need to be calling emergency rooms and detox centers. Those are really the only two health care related places you might encounter a pregnant addict. This realization brought me up short. How can we as a society have turned our backs on a population so firmly that they have to end up in the hospital for us to notice them? With the opioid epidemic in full swing, these women are facing more backlash than ever. In some states they face jail time if they are caught using while pregnant. They deserve a chance to make more of their life and the life of their child. They deserve the chance to get treatment and feel what it’s like to be a healthy mom holding a healthy baby. The Expectant Mothers Treatment Program wants to help make that happen.

If anyone has any other ideas of organizations to contact or places to check into to find this population, let me know in a comment below. Thanks for your help!

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