Barriers to Treatment for Substance Use Disorders among Women with Children

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Abstract

Objective:

The shortage of treatment options for substance use disorders (SUD) has been further challenged by the opioid crisis. We therefore sought to identify the treatment barriers for an underserved population, women with SUD.

Methods:

Women with SUD attending methadone/buprenorphine clinics, a healthcare clinic for marginalized populations, and addiction medicine clinic in Kingston and the Kingston area anonymously completed an 11-item questionnaire. The items pertained to the women's substance use and SUD treatment history, barriers to accessing SUD treatment, and missing services. Descriptive frequencies were reported.

Results:

Sixty-seven women completed the questionnaire, their mean age was 33 years. Most women (70%) had at least 1 child in their care; the mean age of the children was 8.7 years. Thirty women (44.8%) were currently using substances on a regular or semiregular basis. Substances frequently used included opioids (85.1%), marijuana (65.7%), methamphetamines (52.2%), and cocaine (47.8%). Most women (62.5%) had ever participated in a SUD treatment program. A majority also responded that although they had wanted to attend a SUD treatment program at some point in their life they were unable to. Common reasons for not attending a SUD treatment program among women were fear of losing child(ren) (65.9%), no care for child(ren) (48.8%), and waiting list (46.3%). Almost 50% of respondents indicated that parenting resources, parenting skill building programs, parenting support, and childcare were needed services.

Conclusions:

Expanded and targeted programs for the unique circumstances and childcare needs of women with SUD are warranted.

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