In January 2020, YES! Magazine reported about the efforts of pregnant mothers in Wisconsin who deal with substance disorders to overcome their addictions. As Jessica Martinaitis and Mary Hall reported, these mothers are overcoming their addictions with the help of recovery coaches through a pilot program called Pregnancy 2 Recovery, which champions a “trauma-informed, holistic approach” to recovery. The Pregnancy 2 Recovery coaches have experienced addiction themselves, which helps them relate to their clients on a more personal level. The program recognizes the intersection between the women’s roles as mothers and persons in recovery, an approach that has shown to produce better outcomes for both the mother and child.
Typically, women who are addicted to drugs and pregnant fear that if they are honest about their drug addiction with their doctor, child protective services or foster care will be notified and they will lose custody of their child after birth. At Pregnancy 2 Recovery, women talk to a recovery coach who understands their situation and devotes time to build the necessary trust with their clients. The program provides clients a safe place to get the help they need without the guilt, shame, and stigma that they may feel when they visit a doctor.
The state of Wisconsin has the highest number of children who are born experiencing drug withdrawal in the Midwest. In 1998 Wisconsin enacted the Unborn Child Protection Act, which
allows Wisconsin officials to detain adult pregnant women suspected of abusing drugs. Known informally as the “cocaine mom law,” the legislation puts mothers at heightened “risk of prosecution, forced medical care, and losing custody of their children,” YES! Magazine reported.
In January 2020, Wisconsin’s legislature passed a law making it easier for the state to terminate a substance user’s parental rights. However, if a mother enrolls in a treatment program within 90 days of the birth of her child, she will not lose parental rights.
Since it began in 2017, Pregnancy2Recovery has helped 31 women meet with coaches and 14 have either graduated or are currently enrolled, Martinaitis and Hall reported. Pregnancy 2 Recovery and programs similar to it provide crucial support for mothers who are facing the challenges of addiction, helping them to overcome their addictions and to be caring mothers, during and after their pregnancies.
Source: Jessica Martinaitis and Mary Hall, “Reaching Pregnant People with Addictions,” YES! Magazine, January 27, 2020. https://www.yesmagazine.org/health-happiness/2020/01/27/pregnant-people-addiction/.
Student Researchers: Marilyn Parra, Elida Perez Corrales, Ivette Ramirez, and Jacqueline Rodenberg (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Sonoma State University)