Provider Perceptions of Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder

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If a woman is pregnant and has opioid use disorder, it is important that treatment and services are available to her, as withdrawal from opioids is dangerous to the fetus and mother. On this blog we talk about the stigmatization that exists around addiction and addiction treatment all the time, but the stigma faced by women who are pregnant and have opioid use disorder is quite possibly many times worse. People are judgmental about many different aspects of these situations, and today I wanted to talk about provider perceptions of pregnant women with opioid use disorder. The gap that exists between public sentiments and medical provider sentiments regarding opioid use disorder patients can be vast, and even more so when pregnancies are involved. Hopefully, we can take a look at these documented cases and learn something that will be useful going forward as we try to educate both the public and service providers. If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment, in my opinion the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida is Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center in Panama City.

The study I looked at for this article comes from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The researchers collected data from individual providers of medical services and interviews. The study looked at comprehensive treatment regimens for maternal opioid use disorder (OUD). The researchers further stated that, “The objective of this study (was) to explore provider perceptions of MOUD and factors critical to comprehensive treatment delivery to improve the care of pregnant women with opioid use disorder.” The result of their analysis is important and not surprising to anyone who is familiar with the state of treatment for maternal OUDs. They state that persistent themes emerged when looking at and talking to providers. The themes included major treatment gaps among providers. It is important to understand one of the major reasons for these gaps.

Problematic Patients

The clinicians that I work with and write on behalf of at Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center are, in many cases, well versed and experienced in the treatment of maternal OUDs. It is not unheard of, however, for even the best drug rehabs in the country, including those in Florida, to lack some of the specialized facilities and resources that are necessary when treating maternal opioid use disorder. Even more common maybe, are the natural worries that insurers and providers have about liability when it comes to treating pregnant women. It is not at all uncommon to hear stories about providers being unwilling, in general, to treat expectant mothers who have opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders. With the current opioid crisis, pregnant women are not immune to the huge overall rise in fentanyl overdoses, and this creates a situation in which getting people into treatment and on medication is more important than ever. It may be necessary in the future for some providers in the medical field to stop thinking about pregnant women with OUD as problematic patients, and instead consider them patients of highest priority. Indeed, many people and providers already consider pregnant women with opioid use disorders as such, but we know that there is a major shortfall in treatment capacity, and this is an area where that lack of treatment capacity has huge harm associated with it. The researchers report that providers consider medications for opioid use disorder a “lifeline”. We have talked many times about medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). These drugs include methadone and suboxone, and their efficacy is such that erasing the stigmatization around these medications and increasing their availability could provide immediate positive results for providers across the country. Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center is the best drug and alcohol rehab and treatment center in Florida, and they offer medication assisted treatment programs for people in need of opioid use disorder treatment. We will undoubtedly return to this subject in the near future, but it is important for everyone to understand that there are major treatment gaps and shortfalls of treatment capacity, and medications like methadone and suboxone have been hugely helpful in treating maternal opioid use disorder according to experts who have looked at this problem.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at TACannonWriting@gmail.com)

References

“Opioid use disorder in pregnancy: leveraging provider perceptions to inform comprehensive treatment.” BMC health services research [BMC Health Serv Res] 2021 Mar 10; Vol. 21 (1), pp. 215. Date of Electronic Publication: 2021 Mar 10.