Rural women who use illicit drugs are less likely to use contraceptives and risk dangerous pregnancies

contraceptives, leading to dangerous pregnancies. (Getty Images)” width=”1024″/>

Results from a rural survey of illicit drugs show that women who use illicit drugs are less likely to use contraceptives, leading to dangerous pregnancies. (Getty Images)

Rural women who use illicit drugs have low rates of contraceptive use and high rates of unwanted pregnancies compared to women living in rural areas who do not use these drugs, according to survey results from eight rural US regions.

The results, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicineas access to reproductive health care — including abortion — is increasingly restricted in much of the country after the US Supreme Court ruled on June 24 to overturn constitutional protections that have been in place ever since Roe v. calf became precedent in 1973.

The cross-sectional study was created by researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and co-authors across the country.

In light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, the results could be particularly noteworthy.

Ximena A. Levander, MD, MCR is on a gray background.

Ximena A Levander, MD, MCR (OHSU)

“It will have consequences in the form of increased maternal injuries and deaths and exposure of newborns to harmful substances during pregnancy,” said the lead author Ximena A. Levander, MD, MCRAssistant Professor (General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics) at the OHSU School of Medicine.

Researchers examined data from the Rural Opioids Initiative, a survey conducted in eight rural US regions from January 2018 to March 2020. They focused on women aged 18 to 49 who had reported illicit drug use in the previous 30 days – a total of 855 individuals.

Only about 37% reported using contraceptives.

For comparison, survey data from the National Survey on Family Growth shows that 66% of the total population of rural women have used contraceptives. The researchers said the new findings underscore the need to expand access to both reproductive health care and drug use treatment in rural areas.

“There are long-term economic consequences when women have unwanted children,” Levander said. “We know that women who use illicit drugs are more likely to become pregnant, raising concerns about their health and the child.”

The survey reached rural women in Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

The research is based on pooled data and/or methods developed as part of the Rural Opioid Initiative (ROI), a multi-site study using a common protocol jointly developed by researchers at eight research institutions and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA ), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The research presented in this manuscript is the result of harmonization and analysis of secondary data and was supported by grant U24DA048538 from NIDA. Primary data collection was supported by grants UG3DA044829/UH3DA044829, UG3DA044798/UH3DA044798, UG3DA044830/UH3DA044830, UG3DA044823/UH3DA044823, UH3DA044822/UH3DA044822, UG3DA044831/UH3DA044831, UG3DA044825, UG3DA044826/ UH3DA044826, and U24DA044801 co-funded by NIDA, ARC, CDC, and SAMHSA. XAL and RRC were supported by AHRQ K12 HS026370. ESA was supported by NIDA 0099148/00070029, NIDA UG1 DA050066-01, AHRQ 1R18HS027088-01 and NIDA 1U2CDA050098-01. KEL was supported by the NIDA K01DA048174.

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