Thursday, January 13, 2022: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Congress, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Mental Health
Anna Herriott, PhD, University of Chicago
Substance use disorder (SUD) among parents influences parenting and child development in complex ways. A body of research has highlighted how trauma histories and co-occurring mental health disorders in mothers with SUDs are related to less sensitive parenting and to increased child behavior problems (e.g., Finger et al., 2017; Hatzis et al., 2017). Social stigma regarding SUD adds significant challenge to parents' accessing support services (Wolfson et al., 2021), underscoring the need for dignified and comprehensive support for parents with SUDs as a matter of social justice. However, there remains much to learn about parenting with SUDs, particularly from the experiences of parents themselves, in order to more precisely inform intervention and support. In this mixed-methods symposium, scholars from four different institutions will explore SUDs and parenting through the complicated factors that affect the parent and their experiences related to parenting. The four papers, all of which are focused on parenting within the early childhood period, examine different but interrelated influences on parenting in the context of SUDs - including recovery approaches, histories of violence exposure, social support, and the emotional experience of parenting. The goal of this symposium is to unpack some of the complexity surrounding parenting in the context of SUDs and offer nuanced recommendations for support and intervention development. The first paper examines the experiences of new mothers with opioid use disorders (OUDs) and the factors associated with their risk for relapse in the postpartum period. Findings highlight the importance of social support, suggest a continuum of risk for relapse, and identify a crucial window in which social workers can build upon mothers' desires to stop misusing substances. The second paper examines the role of trauma on parenting competence among mothers with SUDs. Findings indicate that trauma symptoms and interpersonal support mediate the impact of violence exposure on parenting sense of competence. The third paper explores self-reflection as a tenet of an intervention for parents with SUDs and offers participants' insights about themselves and their emotional experience of parenting. Findings highlight the centrality of self-reflection in a parenting-in-recovery intervention and demonstrate the ways in which parents were able to process their trauma and guilt and develop capacities that are essential to parenting while in recovery. The final paper explores the experience of four negative emotional themes related to parenting - frustration, anger, anxiety, and guilt - among mothers in treatment for OUD. Findings suggest that substance misuse is both tied to and distinct from mothers' negative affective experiences, which are rooted in their desire to maintain a close relationship with their children and keep them safe and well. With audience engagement, the presenters will reflect on implications for social work research, practice, and training. In particular, discussion will highlight the ways in which the multifaceted factors associated with parenting and recovery emphasized in these four papers underscore the need for social workers' ethical standards of valuing individual dignity and challenging social injustice to lead intervention development and advocacy for families affected by SUDs.
* noted as presenting author
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