Drug dependence, parenting responsibilities, and treatment history: Why doesn't mom go for help?

Thomas J. McMahon, Justin D. Winkel, Nancy E. Suchman, Suniya S. Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Despite longstanding concern that the presence of children deters drug-dependent women from entering treatment, there have been few empirical tests of the relationship between parenting responsibilities and treatment-seeking behavior. In this study, the relationship between number of biological children and treatment history was examined in a cohort of 153 women seeking methadone maintenance treatment. In a standard multiple regression analysis that also allowed for the potential influence of (a) age, (b) education, (c) ethnic minority status, (d) cohabitation with a sexual partner, (e) chronicity of opioid use, and (f) knowledge of HIV infection, there was a significant, negative relationship between number of children and number of earlier contacts for drug abuse treatment. Ethnic minority status and cohabitation with a sexual partner were also associated with fewer earlier contacts; greater chronicity and knowledge of HIV infection were associated with more earlier contacts. Moreover, there was significant moderation of the negative relationship between parenting responsibilities and treatment history by (a) ethnic minority status, (b) cohabitation, and (c) chronicity of use. Within a cross-sectional research design, the findings highlight ways parenting responsibilities may interact with other factors over time to influence the treatment-seeking behavior of drug-dependent women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug treatment history
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Opioid dependence
  • Parenting
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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