A Long-term Follow-up Study of Drug-Dependent Mothers and Their Children Project Summary Abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs causes serious health problems for mothers and their children. Furthermore, maternal drug use and impacted parenting behaviors can have important long-term effects on children's well-being. In recent years, increased numbers of women-only programs have offered special services to address the unique problems and service needs among substance-abusing mothers, including child care and parenting services. However, few studies have examined short-term and long-term outcomes of mothers and children served in women-only programs. Some existing studies have indicated generally positive effects of women-only programs compared to the mixed-gender programs (e.g., greater treatment retention or completion), but these studies are restricted to short-term observations, and none have reported children's outcomes. A better understanding of the long-term outcomes among mothers and their children associated with women-only and mixed-gender programs can help to improve existing services and interventions to prevent or ameliorate the adverse consequences associated with substance abuse by these mothers. We propose to conduct a long-term follow-up study of 4,500 mothers treated for substance abuse via their administrative records, and by interviewing a subsample of mothers (n =1,000) to provide complementary data on their status. Additionally, for a subset of 725 eligible mothers, we will collect assessment data on the target children (mostly aged 7 to 9). The proposed follow-up study will allow us to examine the long-term status of these mothers and some limited information about their children in relation to mothers'admission between 2000 and 2002 to the index treatment in women-only versus mixed-gender programs.
The specific aims of the study are: (1) to investigate mothers'long-term outcomes measured by administrative records (e.g., drug treatment, mental health, arrest) in relation to their index treatment in women-only versus mixed-gender programs;and (2) to locate and interview a subset of mothers to determine, in relation to mothers'index treatment in women-only versus mixed-gender programs, (2a) mothers'current status (social support, parenting behaviors, drug use, mental health) and (2b) children's current status (custody, school achievement, behavioral problems). The proposed quasi-experimental study should provide empirical data with treatment and policy implications for improving services and outcomes for substance-abusing mothers and their children. The study will also lay the foundation for future in-depth investigation of the children of these mothers with histories of substance abuse.
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