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Substance-using mothers: taking control, losing control: the everyday lives of drug and alcohol-dependent mothers in West Midlands

By Sarah Dalal Goode


There are now in Britain some 200,00 homes with a drug-using parent, and this figure does not include the homes with an alcohol-dependent parent. These levels of substance-use seem set to increase, particularly among women of childbearing age.\ud \ud Research so far conducted indicates that women with substance problems are more reluctant than men to come forward for help, and this is especially the case if the women are mothers. Thus the study of the lives of substance-using mothers is an important area of concern, pragmatically in terms of social policy and sociologically in terms of studying a little-known, marginalised and vulnerable population. Despite this importance, little research has been conducted to date on the everyday experiences of substance-using mothers.\ud \ud This thesis addresses this gap in knowledge by researching the lives of forty-eight women with substance-dependency problems, using a grounded-theory approach to analyse data gathered with the aid of a range of research instruments, including a series of semi-structured interviews. The research respondents were interviewed about their childhood experiences, the context of their daily lives as mothers and substance-users, their relationships with their children, and their attitudes and perceptions towards their substance-use.\ud \ud The thesis argued that, in the everyday lives of substance-using mothers, a key narrative is that of taking and losing control, as the women struggle to maintain their family-lives in the face of disruptive forces. The women hold to traditional views of motherhood, and find themselves reluctant non-conformists to this ideal, as they share, together with other mothers under patriarchy, a sense of powerless responsibility for the wellbeing of their children. Substance-using mothers, it is argued, are an example of a conceptual category of 'problematic mothers' in that their failure to cope and protect their children effectively reveals some otherwise-hidden dimensions of normative motherhood

Topics: RC, HV
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3025

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