Substance Abuse Treatment Possibly Hindered by Fear of Losing Children

How do pregnant women addicted to opioids perceive the child protective services (CPS) system in the U.S.? And how do their perceptions affect whether or not they seek substance abuse treatment? These questions are explored in a study conducted by Dr. Rebecca Fischbein (Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management), Dr. Julie Aultman (Professor of Family and Community Medicine, NEOMED), Kelsey Hamilton, MPA (Project Coordinator for SPARK), Dr. Deric Kenne (Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management), and Dr. Lynn Falletta, Post Doctoral Research Associate, Health Policy and Management.

“Using qualitative data collected as part of in-depth semi-structured interviews, the goal of our study is to understand the extent to which substance abuse treatment initiation among pregnant women with opioid addiction might be facilitated or impeded by their past experiences with, attitudes toward, and knowledge about child protective services,” explained Dr. Falletta. “Community agencies were telling me that it is difficult to persuade women with postpartum depression to seek mental health treatment because they are afraid of having their children removed from their care by CPS. Upon hearing this, I wondered if pregnant women who are already in treatment for opioid use would express that same sentiment when asked about their experiences with CPS. We had data collected from a sample of pregnant women in treatment for opioid dependence as part of a comprehensive study of their experiences and are in the process of analyzing it to answer that question.”

In addition to exploring attitudes, the team also is interested in policy. They are asking study participants about system or legal changes they think would be helpful to other women in their situation. 

POSTED: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 10:57am
UPDATED: Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 1:54pm