Mixing Family Planning and Addiction Treatment: A Study.

Mixing Family Planning and Addiction Treatment: A Study.

A significant number of female addiction recovery clients of child-bearing age receive treatment for substance use disorder. Sober living clients’ reproductive healthcare requirements, including contraception, are frequently ignored or addressed only through referrals to off-site facilities throughout treatment. 

Is this, however, what sober living providers and addiction recovery clients believe is the greatest option for recovery support? 

Research Problem. 

In addiction recovery women who are suffering from substance misuse issues, unmet reproductive healthcare needs can result in a variety of unfavorable birth outcomes. 

Women account for over one-third of all substance use disorder treatment and recovery admissions in the United States each year. 

Reproductive health treatments provided during substance abuse treatment may help women in addiction recovery or seeking recovery reduce unintended pregnancies and substance-exposed pregnancies, as well as improve their quality of life. 


However, little is known about the knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes of drug abuse treatment professionals on family planning or the integration of reproductive health care. The major purpose of this study was to describe the knowledge base of reproductive health information among the staff and addiction recovery clients. In addition, the researchers wanted to see how much support there was for integrating family planning services into substance abuse therapy and sober living. 




Research Method 

From 2013 to 2014, this qualitative study was conducted at three substance abuse treatment institutions in Baltimore, MD. The third treatment center was an outpatient medicated-assisted treatment program for moms with small children. The information was gathered through six focus groups with female addiction recovery clients, yielding a sample size of 41 people with an average age of 36. A total of 23 people were sampled from three staff focus groups. 


There were nine in-depth interviews with higher-level employees, including physicians, nurse practitioners and managers, registered nurses, clinical and program directors, and others. Multiple coding iterations were used to look for patterns and commonalities in the data. The authors were able to assess the knowledge base of reproductive health information among staff and customers, as well as the amount of support for the integration of family planning services, using this research design. 





Research Results and Discussion 

Knowledge of the Client 

The statements of the sober living clients revealed that they were aware of contraceptive alternatives, side effects, and benefits. None of the clients expressed opposition to contraception, and the majority expressed support for womenin addiction recovery who use it. Clients indicated contraceptive preferences based on their desire to avoid sickness and plan their family. 

Family Planning & Treatment 

Many sober living clients stated that drug use disorder treatment influenced their decisions and attitudes about family planning by making them more conscious about their general health and the role it can play in supporting recovery. Clients said that having simple access to contraception should be common and that it should be seen as part of a healthy lifestyle shift they undertake while recovering. 

Knowledge Gaps in Clients 

Participants’ statements contained several misconceptions and reservations about contraception and its negative effects. Many of our sober living clients’ contraception decisions were based on the notion that they couldn’t get pregnant while using substances. 

During treatment, clients have access to contraception and family planning. 


The following were some of the challenges to getting contraception and family planning services while in treatment and recovery : 

  1.  Not being asked about family planning at intake, 
  1.  Being unable to get prescriptions filled, 
  1.  Long delays between getting permission to make an appointment with an outside provider and getting an appointment, 
  1.  Challenges in following through with referrals made to outside providers, and  
  1. Being unable to get prescriptions filled. 

Interest in Education and Services 

The majority of consumers said they would feel at ease getting services at their treatment centers, and that they would prefer onsite services. Some participants stated that counselors might provide family planning education, citing their counselors’ high levels of trust. 

Attitudes and Beliefs of Providers 

Several providers stated that they were hesitant to “step on clients’ toes” by invading personal preferences. Family planning difficulties, according to providers, are not a priority in treatment programs. Almost all of the providers claimed that their primary responsibility was to focus on addiction-related issues rather than family planning. Despite their reservations, the majority of the employees believed that providing family planning services on-site would be beneficial to their clients. 



Research Literature Review 

This qualitative study has various implications for the possibility of incorporating family planning services into substance abuse treatment programs. 


Clients have faced challenges in obtaining reproductive services while in residential treatment, which has resulted in healthcare disruptions and unwanted pregnancies. 

Clients favored on-site referrals for family planning needs over off-site referrals. The team also made significant contributions in explaining the possibility for an addiction treatment center to address reproductive healthcare and educational requirements. When working with clients, time restrictions and competing goals were highlighted, as well as a desire not to overstep patients’ personal and professional boundaries. 

Overall, physicians said that family planning and education are crucial and should be available at treatment centers. The staff also believed that reproductive healthcare services should be available on-site at the treatment center, but they identified various barriers to implementation, including time constraints and variable levels of staff comfort with the subject. 



This qualitative study has produced unique data on the interests and barriers to addressing reproductive healthcare in drug use disorder treatment from the perspectives of providers and clients. The next stage will be to use the qualitative replies to influence a quantitative study, and to see how integrated healthcare affects long-term healing. 

Furthermore, the authors recommend that family planning interventions be conscious of any assumption that all women should be allowed to choose whether or not to have children at any point in their lives. 




Individuals and families seeking recovery: At this time, the groundwork is being set for reproductive services to be completely integrated into substance abuse treatment institutions as a standard of care. Depending on where you seek therapy, you may discover that these services are provided to varying degrees. To improve your quality of life in recovery from alcohol or other substances, talk to your providers about starting reproductive healthcare or minimizing disruptions to continuing healthcare routines (e.g., annual checkups). 

For Researchers: This research has discovered some key details about the desire and possibilities for providing reproductive health services in substance abuse treatment programs. Clients and staff agreed that on-site services would be preferable to off-site referrals; nevertheless, employees indicated concerns about competing priorities and their level of familiarity with the subject. More research is needed to see if integrated reproductive care improves the health of substance use disorder patients and what supports are required to make the transition. 

Policymakers should take note: Both doctors and clients agree that reproductive healthcare services should be included in substance use disorder treatment clinics, according to the findings of this preliminary qualitative study. Although primary care has gotten some money for integration into substance abuse treatment, family planning is still missing. Consider emphasizing policy and research to have a better understanding of the potential benefits of integrated reproductive healthcare services as well as any potential constraints. 

Professionals in the field of treatment and treatment systems: Female clients’ reproductive health is frequently overlooked during intake or treatment for substance use disorders. Be aware that women who use opioids are five times more likely than the general population to have four or more pregnancies in their lifetime and are five times more likely to have had an abortion, which could be due to a lack of access to reproductive healthcare. Consider assessing your client’s family planning preferences as part of a holistic rehabilitation plan, and facilitating access if the subject is raised. 


While our sober house directory is an excellent location to start your search for a home, eventually you must pick which one is the greatest fit for you. You should conduct additional research before deciding, even if accreditation and a strong initial impression are fantastic starting points. It is critical that you are not hesitant to inquire! While there are other good sober living homes available, we recommend Vanderburgh House due to their involvement in the development of this guide. 


If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to run a sober house, Vanderburgh Communities, the first organization to grant sober living charters in the United States, can provide additional information. Keep a cheerful attitude and accept each day for what it is! 




Recovery Research Institute. (2021, 01 01). Good Idea? Bad Idea? Integrating Family Planning & Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services. Research. Retrieved 8 28, 2021, from https://www.recoveryanswers.org/research-post/good-idea-bad-idea-integrating-family-planning-substance-use-disorder-treatment-services/ 

Robinowitz,, N., Muqueeth, S., Scheibler, J., Salisbury-Afshar, E., & Terplan, M. (2016). Family Planning in Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers: Opportunities and Challenges. In Substance Use & Misuse (Vol. 51, pp. 1477-1483). Taylor and Francis Online. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2016.1188944