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Tough as a Mother Launches in Oklahoma, Connecting Women to Substance Use Treatment Options

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) hosted OKC and Tulsa Metro providers during two data-driven presentations highlighting mothers living with substance use disorders. These presentations were dedicated to launching a new public awareness campaign that aims to address the stigma of substance use disorder, called Tough as a Mother.

“Since 1999, the number of pregnant women diagnosed with substance use disorder has increased fourfold in Oklahoma,” said Katie Harrison, Senior Program Manager of Adult & Family-centered Substance Use Treatment & Recovery Service. “The stigma associated with pregnant and parenting persons with a substance use disorder, along with potential legal and societal consequences, has resulted in this population being difficult to reach and oftentimes reluctant to seek treatment or engage in prenatal care. We are launching this campaign to reach this population, destigmatize their substance use issues, and provide a connection to treatment providers.”

According to Obstetrics and Gynecology: February 2022, pregnancy-associated drug-related deaths increased by 190% between 2010 and 2019. Additionally, data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) show, as of September 30, 2021, there were 7,468 children in foster care in Oklahoma, and over half of these out of home placements were related to circumstances associated with a parent’s drug or alcohol use.

“Substance use disorder is a treatable, chronic, medical disease that can impact the whole family when one person is struggling. Reducing stigma and providing a connection to care is vitally important to decreasing substance use, preserving the parent-infant bond, strengthening our families and communities, and disrupting cycles of trauma and generational trauma that impact our state,” said Harrison. “Whether it’s during pregnancy, post-partum or years later, mothers and families dealing with addiction issues need support to be successful.”

ODMHSAS’s contracted substance use treatment providers have been rolling out Family Care plans across the state to help support families affected by substance use issues. Family Care Plans are a tool co-developed with the parent designed to strengthen the family, help pregnant persons have a healthy pregnancy, and keep children safely at home. ODMHSAS’ goal is to reduce stigma around mothers and parenting persons who experience substance use concerns and engage families in care as early as possible.

Oklahoma’s Tough as a Mother campaign was modeled after the state of Colorado, which shared video testimonials from mothers who participated in the program.

Similar events will be held in towns across Oklahoma in the coming months. More information and treatment resources can be found at

ODMHSAS Communications

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