Stresses, Strengths, and Experiences of Mothers Engaged in Methadone Maintenance Treatment

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Although methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is the intervention of choice for addiction, unfortunately, mothers are less likely to engage in care. Greater understanding of how mothers experience the addiction and the recovery process is needed to develop strategies to effectively engage mothers in MMT. This mixed method study applied quantitative and qualitative approaches with a sample of 12 mothers who were engaged in MMT for 3 or more months. Although the results showed stresses of high depression and difficult life circumstance scores, the mothers had strengths that included positive social support and family functioning. Inductive analysis of transcribed interviews identified three themes that explained how mothers experienced addiction and recovery: diminished maternal identity, choice for mothering, and redefined maternal identity. During addiction, mothers described a sense of diminished maternal identity with two subthemes of diminished performed mothering and interrupted mothering. With the second theme, choice for mothering, mothers described making the choice to attend MMT for their children. The third theme, redefined maternal identity, consisted of two subthemes that reflected potential outcomes of MMT and addiction recovery. Whereas most mothers described positive, restored maternal identity, two mothers of older children noted continued diminished maternal identity with persistence of negative mother–child relationships despite maternal addiction recovery. Recommendations are made to assist service providers to consider maternal identity within the recovery process.

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