Our Irrational Cruelty to Pregnant or Parenting People Who Use Drugs
People who use drugs while pregnant and parenting are one of the most stigmatized populations in the United States.27 Apr 2019
Keri, now 35 and studying to become an addiction treatment counselor in Illinois, learned she was pregnant in 2016. In those first days and weeks, she was a mess of uncertainty and confusion. She did not know how she was going to care for a child, whether her partner would be supportive, or even where they would live. But one thing she did know was that she did not want to use drugs while she was pregnant or parenting.
The problem was, she was addicted to heroin.
People who use drugs while pregnant and parenting are one of the most stigmatized populations in the United States. There is a pervasive idea that parents—particularly women—have a duty to sacrifice everything for their child, even down to their comfort and enjoyment.
It’s not enough to ensure that a child is well cared for; society expects mothers to also behave in a manner that 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.
Share this on: