Melissa C. Henry, Pilar M. Sanjuan, Lisa Cacari Stone, Grace F. Cairo, Anthony Lohr-Valdez, Lawrence M. Leeman, Alcohol and Other Substance Use Disorder Recovery During Pregnancy Among Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: A qualitative study, Drug and Alcohol Dependence Reports, 2021,100013, ISSN 2772-7246,
About 5% of women are pregnant at substance use disorder (SUD) treatment entry, and pregnant women with SUD often belong to marginalized groups experiencing social, economic, and health care barriers associated with stigma from prenatal substance use. Pregnant women in SUD treatment have high rates of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study sought to (1) examine the lived experiences of pregnant individuals with PTSD symptoms in SUD treatment and (2) understand the roles of systematic or contextual barriers to the pursuit of prenatal abstinence.
We draw upon in-depth semi-structured interviews to examine relationships between SUD, psychological trauma/PTSD experience, social resources and lived experiences among patients in prenatal SUD treatment with PTSD symptoms. Our sample was pregnant patients (N=13) with prior DSM-5 Criterion A trauma and current PTSD symptoms enrolled in a comprehensive program integrating prenatal care, substance use counseling, medication for opioid use disorder and case management at three sites affiliated with an urban academic medical center in New Mexico.
Using thematic analysis, four main themes identified structural forces influencing alcohol and drug use: (a) lack of access or ability to obtain resources, (b) substance use to cope with negative affect, (c) social stigma, and (d) interpersonal relationships.
Despite receiving high-quality integrated prenatal and SUD care, these pregnant patients with PTSD symptoms in SUD treatment still experienced substantial social and structural hurdles to achieving abstinence during pregnancy.
Click here to read the open-access research article.