Women, Children and Addiction

Women, Children and Addiction

Women, Children and Addiction

Women, Children and Addiction


This proposed book draws on the expertise of 35 experts in the field of Addiction Medicine to provide the reader with a current and comprehensive view of addiction as related to women, pregnancy, newborns, infants and children. The volume begins by placing current attitudes towards addicted women in a historical context, and continues with contributions on the relationship of gender to substance abuse research, addiction as a general health issue in women, and ethical dilemmas faced when approaching drug use during pregnancy.

The volume discusses high-risk pregnancies and HIV infection related to maternal drug abuse. It details specific pharmacotherapy such as methadone and buprenorphine, and assesses society's punitive view toward illicit drug using women. Finally, the book describes outcomes of newborns, infants and children born following intrauterine drug exposure.

Health providers in many related disciplines, specialists in Addiction Medicine, social workers and ethicists are among those who will gain insight into the complex interdisciplinary matrix of abuse in women, its unique relationship to pregnancy, and its impact on drug-exposed children.

This book was published as a special issue in the Journal of Addictive Diseases.


Addiction in women is a major public health problem. Approximately 90% of women using drugs are of reproductive age. Societal moral attitudes have stigmatized and dehumanized women who are drug-dependent, particularly those who become pregnant. As a result, barriers exist for women who are addicted to drugs when they attempt to obtain optimal and appropriate medical and obstetrical care, as well as gender-specific services for their addiction. These barriers apply to women of all races and socioeconomic status. The best public health result can be obtained once these barriers have been removed, allowing women to find appropriate services in supportive, multidimensional treatment facilities for themselves and their children. Much has been learned over the past several decades from research in the field of drug dependence, but continued attention to evidence-based studies is essential to provide the best possible care for women who are addicted, to determine the intricacies of neonatal abstinence syndrome, and to assess the overall immediate and long-term effects of in utero drug exposure. To delineate the multi-factorial aspects of addiction in women and the effects of in utero exposure, it will take many more dedicated researchers and a large funding commitment by

Epidemiological and clinical research has indicated that predictors for and progression to drug abuse and dependence are often gender-specific or gender-sensitive. Differences between men and women have been identified in evidence-based studies examining the epidemiology of drug abuse, biological and subjective responses to drugs, patterns of use, progression from use to dependence, gender differences in medical consequences of drug addiction, concomitant psychiatric disorders with drug use, victimization and violence against women, midlife and older women, specific barriers to entry, retention, and completion of . . .

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