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Pregnant Suboxone user seeks pre-natal care, gets busted instead

October 25, 2013
by Dennis Grantham, Editor in Chief
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Woman arrested after medical personnel report case to police

While receiving Suboxone treatment to overcome an opiate addiction, a Wisconson woman seeking prenatal care was later arrested by local police, following a report by medical personnel, and forced into weeks of addiction treatment that resulted in the loss of her job.

Now she's suing, claiming that the state's fetal protection law arrested her for what she was already trying to do: protect her child from harm through an existing course of substance abuse treatment.  

Is this a case where she was doing the best she could using a medication-assisted treatment, or should she have been on an abstinence-based program?  And what was her physician/provider thinking when she was referred to the police?  (Note: 42 CFR rules would not apply here, since she was receiving medical services, not treatment services from a drug-treatment program covered by federal 42 CFR privacy rules.)

This reminds me of a program I learned of in San Antonio, Texas, which aimed at overcoming the negative attitudes that medical personnel in pre-natal programs directed toward pregnant women struggling to overcome SUDs.  The program, a partnership of the Center for Health Care Services and local hospitals, countered the "how dare you endanger your child?" attitudes of many medical personnel, which tended to frighten women away. Instead, the professionals were challenged to appreciatively accept and support the women's struggles to overcome addition and bear healthy children. Certainly, this is a pragmatic approach to a tough problem.

What do you think?  

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Dennis Grantham

Dennis Grantham

@BH_dgrantham

www.behavioral.net