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Mothers and Illicit Drugs

Mothers and Illicit Drugs: Transcending the Myths

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 272
  • Book Info
    Mothers and Illicit Drugs
    Book Description:

    A critical feminist expose of some surprising social fictions about both "good" and "bad" drugs, and "good" and "bad" mothers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7741-8
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 A Gender Analysis
    (pp. 3-43)

    Since the mid-1980s the mass media and many members of the medical profession have demonized expectant mothers who use illicit drugs, viewing them as unfit parents who damage their unborn children through their continued drug use. The image created to convey this message is a familiar one: We see a white male doctor holding a premature infant – a separate entity from the mother – and often we are informed that the child is suffering from withdrawal symptoms which may include tremors, a high-pitched cry, and arching of the back, and that such infants are severely damaged, creating a new underclass of...

  5. 2 Drugs and Mothering
    (pp. 44-72)

    Although many women who use illicit drugs in Canada are poly-drug users, most have a drug of choice. Individuals who consume drugs have varied reasons for doing so, and people can have different experiences with similar drugs (Alexander, 1990; O’Hare, 1992; Peele & Brodsky, 1991; Weil & Rosen, 1993). For example, some people prefer heroin; others prefer cocaine. For women who use illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine, the secrecy, social stigma, and lifestyle involved can be problematic. Social attitudes regarding illicit drug use, especially in relation to mothering, are quite negative and have significant consequences for women (Humphries...

  6. 3 Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): Sunny Hill Hospital for Children
    (pp. 73-106)

    Of the children of the twenty-eight mothers interviewed for this study, fourteen of their children had been diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Of these fourteen children, ten were in-patients at the NAS program at Sunny Hill Hospital for Children in Vancouver, B.C. All of the mothers were on social assistance when their children were transferred to the in-patient NAS program at Sunny Hill, and seven of the ten children were eventually permanently apprehended by the Ministry of Social Services (see table 3.1).

    The ideologies surrounding mothering, family, and illicit drugs often inform medical decision making regarding the care of...

  7. 4 Social Services: Intervention and Regulation
    (pp. 107-133)

    Women are vulnerable to social service intervention, even when their children have not been labelled NAS. Women in Canada who use illicit drugs are often challenged by social services agencies in relation to their mothering. Single mothers who use illicit drugs are much more likely to come into contact with social services than are men (Cain, 1994). Many social service professionals equate illicit drug use with poor mothering (Humphries et al., 1992; Maher, 1992; Maier, 1992), which places children at risk at birth or later in life. In addition, social work agencies have expanded their control to define and act...

  8. 5 Drug Treatment
    (pp. 134-165)

    Many of the women in this study entered drug treatment in order to gain custody of their children from the ministry. Others entered treatment voluntarily in order to cease or stabilize their drug use. Although some women are able to benefit from drug treatment, a majority of the women interviewed have been subjected to inhumane and cruel treatment.

    In North America, illicit drug use is predominantly viewed as a medical and/or legal problem (Alexander, 1990; Erickson, Riley, Cheung, & O’Hare, 1997; O’Hare, 1992; Peele & Brodsky, 1991). The legal model views illicit drug users as criminal, and the medical model...

  9. 6 The Effects of the Criminalization of ‘Narcotics’
    (pp. 166-206)

    It is evident that both Canadian and U.S. drug legislation were originally fuelled by moralism, racism, and economic concerns (see Boyd, 1984; Green, 1986; Musto, 1987; Solomon & Green, 1988). The Chinese in Western Canada and the United States, were perceived as an economic threat to white labourers after the completion of the railroads. In British Columbia, racism and economic fears directed at Chinese labourers culminated in a labour demonstration and riot in 1907. Mackenzie King, then the deputy minister of Labour, came to Vancouver to settle damage claims from the riots after being approached by two opium merchants seeking...

  10. 7 Implications for Policy Makers
    (pp. 207-212)

    Our society suffers from a lack of information about women who use illicit drugs and the institutions that often define and shape their lives. The study discussed in this book derived from open-ended interviews with twenty-eight mothers in Western Canada in 1993–4 facilitated the airing of opinions on this important topic. It shows how the behaviour of mothers who use illicit drugs is regulated through formal and informal social controls and the impact of ideologies. The legal, medical, and social service professions in Canada control and punish these mothers. Current drug legislation and policy regarding illicit drug, especially by...

  11. APPENDIX: Interview Schedule
    (pp. 213-214)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 215-218)
  13. References
    (pp. 219-238)
  14. Index
    (pp. 239-243)