Rural Postpartum Women With Substance Use Disorders

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Abstract

The incidence of perinatal opioid use and neonatal withdrawal continues to rise rapidly in the face of the growing opioid addiction epidemic in the United States, with rural areas more severely affected. Despite decades of research and development of practice guidelines, maternal and neonatal outcomes have not improved substantially. This focused ethnography sought to understand the experience of accessing care necessary for substance use disorder recovery, pregnancy, and parenting. Personal accounts of 13 rural women, supplemented by participant observation and media artifacts, uncovered three domains with underlying themes: challenges of getting treatment and care (service availability, distance/geographic location, transportation, provider collaboration/coordination, physical and emotional safety), opportunities to bond (proximity, information), and importance of relationships (respect, empathy, familiarity, inclusion, interactions with care providers). Findings highlight the need for providers and policy makers to reduce barriers to treatment and care related to logistics, stigma, judgment, and lack of understanding of perinatal addiction.

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