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Barriers to Treatment for Substance Use Disorders among Women with Children

Brogly, Susan B., PhD, MSc1; Link, Kendra, RD2; Newman, Adam, MD3 for the Kingston House of Recovery for Women and Children

doi: 10.1097/CXA.0000000000000025

ABSTRACT Objective:

The shortage of treatment options for substance use disorders (SUD) has been further challenged by the opioid crisis. We therefore sought to identify the treatment barriers for an underserved population, women with SUD.


Women with SUD attending methadone/buprenorphine clinics, a healthcare clinic for marginalized populations, and addiction medicine clinic in Kingston and the Kingston area anonymously completed an 11-item questionnaire. The items pertained to the women's substance use and SUD treatment history, barriers to accessing SUD treatment, and missing services. Descriptive frequencies were reported.


Sixty-seven women completed the questionnaire, their mean age was 33 years. Most women (70%) had at least 1 child in their care; the mean age of the children was 8.7 years. Thirty women (44.8%) were currently using substances on a regular or semiregular basis. Substances frequently used included opioids (85.1%), marijuana (65.7%), methamphetamines (52.2%), and cocaine (47.8%). Most women (62.5%) had ever participated in a SUD treatment program. A majority also responded that although they had wanted to attend a SUD treatment program at some point in their life they were unable to. Common reasons for not attending a SUD treatment program among women were fear of losing child(ren) (65.9%), no care for child(ren) (48.8%), and waiting list (46.3%). Almost 50% of respondents indicated that parenting resources, parenting skill building programs, parenting support, and childcare were needed services.


Expanded and targeted programs for the unique circumstances and childcare needs of women with SUD are warranted.

1Department of Surgery, Kingston Health Science Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, ON

2Independent Researcher, Kingston House of Recovery for Women and Children, Kingston, ON

3Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, ON

Corresponding Author: Susan B. Brogly, PhD, MSc, Department of Surgery, Kingston Health Science Centre, Victory 3, 76 Stuart Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 2V7. Tel: +1 613 549 6666 ext. 8227, Fax: +1 613 548 2428, E-mail:

Funded by the Kingston United Way/City of Kingston Community Investment Grant (Dr. Adam Newman). The authors thank Dane Mauer-Vakil for his assistance with data entry.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received January 30, 2018

Accepted June 29, 2018

© 2018 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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