A photovoice study to capture the experiences of women who use alcohol and/or drugs during pregnancy
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The reasons a woman may use alcohol and/or drugs during her pregnancy are far more complex than the conscious decision to use or not to use. In reality, substance use during pregnancy is not easily preventable, with many of the conditions contributing to a woman’s use existing beyond her control. Upon reviewing the existing literature, there are very few studies that have consulted directly with women who use substances during their pregnancy to provide insight into their perspectives and day to day experiences. In addition, there have been a disproportionate number of quantitative studies focused on researching the trends of women who use substances during pregnancy, or the programming that they access. In order to better understand the realities of women who use substances during their pregnancies, the study utilized an exploratory descriptive research design, while using the photovoice data collection method. More specifically the study examined the challenges, successes and supports of women who used alcohol and/or drugs during their pregnancies. The findings indicate that substance use during pregnancy is far more complex than a simple choice, and is different for every woman. Some of the challenges identified by women in the study included their patterns of use, stigma, and housing; while some of the successes and supports identified included changes in their substance use, having a place to call home and various supports such as family members and accessible programs.