Barriers to Care for Parenting Women with Substance Use Disorder in Rural Areas

Barriers to Care for Parenting Women with Substance Use Disorder in Rural Areas

Late last week I wrote about some of the programs offered at the best drug rehabs in Florida and Alabama, and how those programs become even more critical for rural populations when other treatment options disappear. Covid-19 has been the cause of many treatment options evaporating for patients around the country, and the disease has made things much more difficult at some of the best drug rehabs in Florida specifically, which is where most of my work concentrates on. Last week I talked about serious barriers to care in the medication-assisted treatment programs around the country, and the many ways in which those barriers are even more serious for people living in rural areas. To begin this week, I wanted to talk about some of the serious barriers to care that exist around other treatment options for substance use disorder. 

In 2020, the National Rural Health Association published a study that speaks to this issue directly, and it concentrates on an interesting group of people that is representative of larger trends. The incredible research that I will cite today was performed using a sample population of only parenting women. That is, any woman who takes care of her children or foster children on a daily basis. One major barrier to care always exists for people in this group, and that is the need to continue providing care for their children. Leaving for 30 days to enter intensive rehabilitation is often not a good option for women in this group, so things like medication-assisted treatment, which we talked about a few times last week, and outpatient treatment that includes telemedicine can be good options for parenting women who need substance abuse treatment. Rather than trying to imagine or guess what major barriers to care might exist for parenting women in rural areas, we look to studies like this one for answers and a roadmap for how to increase treatment participation amongst parenting women who need substance use disorder treatment. 

To quote from the section of the study that discusses the methods they used to examine this issue, they were seeking to “estimate the differences in utilizing SUD treatment among parenting women with SUD in rural and urban counties in the United States. The role of perceived need for SUD treatment and barriers related to finance, access, and stigma are also examined.” Stigma, finances, and overall access to treatment are things that we talk about on this blog on a daily basis, so we might return to this study again in the future, but let’s get into some of the findings of the research. Here are two of the very important statistics that the study found, 

“Parenting women in rural counties with SUD who perceive a need for treatment have more than 90% lower odds of receiving treatment compared to those in urban counties. In addition, parenting women with SUD in rural counties have more than 50% higher odds of identifying access-related issues such as lack of openings in programs, unavailability of treatment facilities, and lack of transportation as barriers to care compared to parenting women in urban counties.”

As always, SUD is a substance use disorder, which includes drug and alcohol abuse issues. To put some of these findings in plain English, parenting women in rural areas were much more likely to see programs in their areas already full and unable to accept new patients, they were much more likely to not have transportation to a program, and they were much more likely not to even have a program in the area where they live. Parenting women in urban areas were much less likely to have all these issues. The easiest statistic to understand is that parenting women in rural areas were 90% less likely to receive treatment for substance use disorder, which is a disheartening and scary statistic, but that is why I am trying to shine a light on places like Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery in Panama City, FL. It is the best drug rehab in Florida or Alabama, and it is located in the Florida Panhandle, so it is available to many of the rural populations that are underserved by the mental health care industry at large. If you or a loved one needs more information about the best drug rehab in Florida or the programs offered there, please go to the programs page on this website. 

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at



Barriers to Treatment Among Parenting Women With Substance Use Disorder in US Rural Counties. The Journal of rural health : official journal of the American Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Care Association, [s. l.], 2020. DOI 10.1111/jrh.12488. Disponível em: Acesso em: 5 out. 2020.