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Our Irrational Cruelty to Pregnant or Parenting People Who Use Drugs

April 19, 2019

looks caring. Once someone becomes a mother, she enters into an unspoken agreement to be scrutinized by just about everyone. If illegal drugs are on the scene, she is instantly labeled the Worst Person Ever. And this discrimination is greatly exacerbated for parents of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “substance abuse” is a risk factor for child maltreatment. There are certainly risks associated with use of illicit drugs, though it’s worth noting that many of those potential dangers stem from the criminalization of drugs, rather than from the drug use in itself. For example, someone who injects heroin in the home might be at risk of overdose. But this peril is increased both by the secretiveness that illegality demands, making it more likely the person will use alone, and by prohibition’s tendency to incentivize production of more potent drugs—see the widespread presence of fentanyl in US heroin supplies in recent years. Lack of access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone also compounds the risk. Regardless of the reasons, the danger of a parent overdosing while alone with a child is real, and cause for concern. Other issues could be that a parent with an active, severe substance use disorder might not have enough money to provide for basic needs like food and appropriate clothing, or might be too intoxicated to notice cues that indicate a child is ill. But these are only possibilities; drug use takes place on a spectrum. The mere fact that a parent uses a drug does not mean he is not taking good care of his child. And it certainly doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his child. Link to full article here, originally posted on: Filter logo  ]]>

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