Alys I. Cohen


Cleo Washington was seven months pregnant with her second child when she was forced to leave drug treatment; the city had cut the program from its budget. This was Washington's third attempt to seek treatment during her pregnancy. Initially, she tried acupuncture, but left the program because she was afraid that the needles might be infected and was offended by the drug dealers gathering just outside the door. Next, she attended a coed program, which placed men, women, and children in the same room during therapy. Her city caseworker then referred her to a special program for mothers and pregnant women. Three weeks later, it closed. Frustrated, Washington decided not to seek out a fourth program although she knew state authorities might place her children in foster care. "'I'll just stay home,' she said, 'I don't want the aggravation of starting over.' " The story of Cleo Washington is not unique. Across the country, pregnant women face major obstacles when seeking treatment for their drug dependence. Many are denied access to programs simply because they are pregnant. Some of those who do find treatment must resort to clinics that do not sufficiently meet their needs.

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