Seeking treatment while balancing family, especially a new or growing family, can feel hard but there are resources available to help you. If you are pregnant and are looking for treatment options, the MA Substance Use Helpline can point you in the right direction. Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is effective and safe during pregnancy. Treatment with MOUD during pregnancy improves both the health and safety of the birthing person and of the fetus. 

Treatment Options for Pregnant People 

  • People who are pregnant can access the same services as the general population. This includes clinical and non-clinical treatment options, including MOUD. 
  • Pregnant and post-partum people (people who have recently given birth) are federally identified priority populations. If you need residential treatment and can’t receive it right away because a bed is not available, you have the right to interim supportive services until a bed becomes available.  
  • You have options and people to turn to as you seek treatment and stay connected with your family. The Institute of Health and Recovery offers family residential treatment services to help support your recovery and your family.  

Rights, Protections, and Tips for Advocacy 

  • You cannot be denied medication for opioid use disorder in the child welfare system or if you are pregnant and breastfeeding – this a violation of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  
  • If you are on MOUD, you will not automatically be involved with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).  
  • Know what to look for when it comes to facing discrimination. It can be subtle and difficult to name. A few examples are: 
    • Being denied visitation rights to your child because you are on MOUD like methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex). Unless you are using non-prescribed substances, you cannot be denied visitation rights while on MOUD.  
    • Having your infant taken from your custody after the hospital where you gave birth reported you for having legally prescribed MOUD in your system. Social services cannot take your child if the only reason is that you are on legally prescribed MOUD.  
    • Having your child taken away because your recovery status is automatically seen as making you unfit to care for your child. You can be on MOUD and stay with your child if you are otherwise providing your child with the care that they need.  
    • Your caseworker, lawyer, or advocate making any negative statement to you about your ability to be a good parent because of your recovery status, race, ethnicity, class, marriage status, age, sex, or sexual orientation.  
  • You have a right to access your recovery plan, often called a Plan of Safe Care (POSC). The document is made between a pregnant or parenting woman and her provider. This document helps women to think about what services or supports they might find useful, to record their plans for being a parent, and to organize the care and services they are receiving.  

Supporting Recovery While Working with DCF 

  • The reunification process can be difficult and painful. You have a right to access mental health and social support services throughout every step of the process.   
  • You have a right to see your child. You may ask DCF to see your child as soon as possible after your 72-hour hearing, and DCF must set up a visit within 5 business days, so long as the visits will not be harmful to the child. 
  • You have a right to an interpreter during your court hearing. Your lawyer will ask the judge for this. 
  • Document your case at every step of the process. Keep a notebook with you at all times and record communications with DCF, questions, and notes from child visits.  
  • If you feel your lawyer doesn’t listen to you, you can ask the judge for a different lawyer. You can also file a complaint with the Committee for Public Counsel Services at 617-482-6212. 
  • You have a right to see your Service Plan, which is the list of services and action items written by DCF that you must complete to be reunified with your child. This could include counseling, substance use treatment, or parent education classes. The Service Plan needs to explain what the services are, and why you are asked to comply with them.  
  • You can ask a judge for a Court Appointed Special Advocate or a Guardian ad Litum (GAL). 

Resources for Families

  • Learn to Cope is a non-profit support network that offers education, resources, peer support and hope for parents and family members coping with a loved one addicted to opiates or other drugs.
  • Parents Helping Parents is a resource made by parents working with DCF for other parents working with DCF.  
  • The Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) provides a list of resources for parents and families in their mini guide
  • The Journey Recovery Project provides advice, information, and resources for parents at all stages in their recovery and family journey.  
  • The Children and Family Law Division provides attorneys to work with parents navigating family court.  
  • The Parental Stress Line (1-800-632-8188) is a 24-hour helpline staffed by trained volunteer counselors who are available to help you.  
  • The Family Engagement Project is an in-home treatment and case management program for mothers with SUD who also have an open case with DCF.  
  • Moms Do Care is a peer-based recovery support program in ten communities across Massachusetts for mothers with substance use disorder (SUD).  
  • IHR has an interactive resource map that spans housing, employment, and treatment services for pregnant people and parents.  
  • National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) is a legal and advocacy organization which works to advance the equal rights of all pregnant people.  
  • If you are a grandparent caring for a child involved with DCF, you can connect with Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a support group for grandparents in Massachusetts.  
  • Pregnancy and substance use: A harm reduction toolkit