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Stigma, violence, and pregnancy: exploring treatment of women with opioid use disorder

Mallepalli, Abhignya (2019) Stigma, violence, and pregnancy: exploring treatment of women with opioid use disorder. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This paper analyzes interviews conducted with women seeking prenatal and postpartum care in a clinic focused on providing such care to women with opioid use disorder (OUD) in order to discuss factors that undermine their success in drug treatment. Among these factors are intimate partner violence, partners who also use opioids, and socioeconomic conditions. This paper shows that social attitudes toward pregnant women with OUD also contribute to their not seeking and/or sustaining treatment for OUD. It notes that while pregnancy is a moment of opportunity for women with OUD to seek treatment as part of prenatal care, features of healthcare and legal institutions in the United States prevent many women from taking advantage of this opportunity to treat their OUD and promote their health. This paper opens with an examination of Margaret Sanger’s family planning movement, a movement that ostensibly sought to improve the reproductive and overall health of women by developing, and demanding legal access to, contraception. Sanger’s movement was motivated by the goal of not only improving women’s health, but also improving society through family planning, and placed the responsibility for such social improvement in large measure on women as mothers. Through her descriptions of unfit mothers and the familial and social ills resulting from their improper motherhood, Sanger articulates values of proper motherhood—both personal attributes and social conditions that would enable women to have children who contribute to society in the upper-middle class image of Sanger’s own life and social contribution. This paper shows that values of proper motherhood, coupled with the stigma of illicit drug use, inform current attitudes toward pregnant women and mothers with OUD, that these attitudes are internalized by women themselves, and that their seeking and sustaining drug treatment are negatively affected by these values and stigma.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mallepalli, Abhignyaamallepalli@gmail.comarm168
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairParker,
Committee MemberAziz,
Committee MemberMeyer,
Committee MemberSatkoske,
Date: 30 April 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 April 2019
Approval Date: 30 April 2019
Submission Date: 19 April 2019
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 53
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: opioid use disorder, pregnancy, women, intimate partner violence, stigma, treatment, qualitative, interview, drugs, treatment, motherhood
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2019 19:19
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2021 05:15


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