Female addicts excluded from drug treatment

109/481 19 Feb 90 07:55:10
From:   Marilyn Burge
To:     All
Subj:   But they Jail them for Giving it to their Babies
          Treatment Lacking for Pregnant Addicts
            From 19 January issue of Science Mag
       Published by the American Association for the
             Advancement of Science (Page 285)
     Crack cocaine is cucting an unprecedented swath through women and 
therefore newborn babies.  But pregnant women get short shrift when it comes to 
drug treatment.
     Although at least half of crack addicts are now believed to be female, 
"drug treatment is still predominantly a male world," says physician Wendy 
Chavkin of Columbia University School of Public Health.
     A survey of 78 New York treatment programs that Chavkin conducted last 
year found that 54% excluded pregnant women, 67% excluded those on Medicaid, 
and 87% excluded crack addicts.  Why?  Chavkin says the reasons were not clear, 
although three programs told a woman who called posing as a pregnant addict to 
try elsewhere because their facilities were located on third floor walk-ups.  
Chavkin speculates that the real reasons have to do with uncertainties about 
the medical management of pregnant women and liability fears.  
     Meanwhile the problem of drug-exposed babies is growing.  Surveys 
conducted witghin the last 2 years at three New York hospitals showed that 11 
to 20% of all newborns were affected by crack.  And the scourge is not limited 
to the usual urban hot spots.
     Ira Chasnoff of the National Association for Perinatal Addiction Reserach 
and Education says that a study in Pinellas County, Florida (home of St. 
Petersburg), revealed that 15% of all pregnant women tested positive for 
cocaine, opiates, or marijuana.

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