The Spiritual and Ethical Implications of Medication-Assisted Recovery in Pregnancy: Preserving the Dignity and Worth of Mother and Baby

Main Article Content

Cayce Watson
April Mallory
Amy Crossland

Keywords

faith, harm reduction, medication-assisted recovery, pregnancy, social work practice, social work values

Abstract

Reducing harm, supporting autonomy, and affirming dignity are foundational values in social work practice.  Attempts to balance personal beliefs, faith, and ethical responsibilities with client-centered therapies can elicit internal conflicts for practitioners.  These challenges are even more evident when working with opioid dependent pregnant women in medication-assisted recovery.  Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is evidence-based and a recommended first-line approach for treating opioid use disorder in pregnancy; however, neonates exposed to opiates, either street drugs or MAT, may develop neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).  Disagreement among treatment providers, insufficient resources for pregnant clients, and incomplete service delivery compound the stigma surrounding pregnant women living with opioid misuse.  This article explores current evidence and best practices for pregnant women with opioid use disorder, the spiritual and ethical dilemmas of social workers supporting a harm reduction approach, and recommendations for individual and community-based interventions that support the dignity and worth of both mother and baby.

Abstract 38 |

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