Substance abuse treatment engagement among mothers: Perceptions of the parenting role and agency-related motivators and inhibitors


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

This qualitative study explored 1) the parenting role as a motivator and inhibitor to engaging in substance abuse treatment and 2) parenting-related, agency-imposed barriers and facilitators to substance abuse treatment engagement. Nine focus groups (n=45) were conducted with current and former male and female recipients of treatment services in one south eastern state. Using inductive thematic analysis, transcripts were analyzed to identify key themes related to parenting. Females were overrepresented in our groups and were more vocal than males regarding issues of parenting as these related to treatment. Among mothers, motivations for treatment related to parenting included involvement with child protective services and the desire to be a better parent. Inhibitors for treatment included anxiety over separation from child, debilitating guilt, and parenting demands. Facilitators for participation included mother-child residential programs, services for children, concrete support, and advocacy and emotional support. Barriers for participation included decreased access to the child and barriers specific to mother-child residential programs. To enhance treatment engagement among parents, providers can address agency-level barriers and draw upon the parenting role as intrinsic motivation for change. Policies and services are needed that promote flexibility, choice, and support parents to engage in treatment services.

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