Shibogama Health Authority and the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) jointly issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in February 2013 for research pertaining to pregnant women and young mothers with a history of addictions in the Shibogama communities of Kasabonika, Kingfisher Lake, Wapekeka and Wunnimun Lake. The research was intended to provide important service-related information for the region with specific input from the Shibogama communities. The RFP included an environmental scan, a needs assessment, and a review of current service practices. It anticipated the development of recommendations to improve both community-based and institution-based services for pregnant women and mothers with a history of addictions.
Florence Woolner and Associates submitted a proposal in response to the RFP and were awarded the contract. Research was conducted between May and July, 2013 and the final research report was produced in November 2013.
- Total births in a five year period for mothers 30 and under were 227, with an average of 45 births per year in the four communities
- 43% of births were to mothers with a history of addictions
- Up to 89% of addicted women use or have used opioids
- Most women who experienced addictions were in a relationship (60 – 70%)
- Most addicted women had larger families (3 or more children)
- Almost all of the partners of addicted women were using as well and both partners tended to stop at the same time
- 82% used drugs during their last pregnancy
- Half the users indicated they used drugs heavily (daily or almost daily)
- Mothers indicated 30% of their babies were born suffering some withdrawal; mothers expressed sadness, regret, guilt, shame, worry and self-directed anger
- Majority of mothers who used during pregnancy thought about quitting but were unable, citing withdrawal as main barrier
- Many women mentioned repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit; Suboxone has been the most successful approach
- Many referred to other trauma or grief including deaths and suicides of loved ones, loss of children, marital problems
- Many credited support from family and friends, doctors, nurses
- Women seldom used local counsellors