A scoping review of Aotearoa New Zealand women's experiences of substance use, alcohol and drug services



Substance use, parenting, pregnancy, addiction, treatment, rehabilitation


INTRODUCTION: The experiences with healthcare services of women who use substances (WWUS)—especially when pregnant or parenting—are largely missing from research in Aotearoa. This scoping review was conducted to inform doctoral research on a new, integrated parenting and substance-use residential-treatment facility in Auckland: Te Whare Taonga.

APPROACH: Two objectives of the review were to: 1) collate insights from experiences of women who use substances; and 2) synthesise strengths and weaknesses within current healthcare and alcohol or other drug (AOD) services to understand what works to support WWUS, particularly those who are pregnant or parenting. Peer-reviewed studies, grey literature, and theses published between 1992–2022 exploring the perspectives and views of WWUS and their experiences of substance use, healthcare services, and AOD-treatment providers in Aotearoa New Zealand, were scoped in multiple databases.

FINDINGS: The review evidenced a need for gender-specific or gender-sensitive services that are non-stigmatising, accessible to pregnant or parenting women, and culturally appropriate. Holistic care tailored to individual need was considered important. Barriers to treatment included stigma, wait times, negative experiences of healthcare workers, and a lack of appropriate services to meet women’s needs.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a lack of AOD services available to WWUS, and, subsequently, research is limited. However, the findings provide an understanding of how healthcare and treatment providers, social workers, whānau (extended family, family group, can include friends with no kinship ties), community, and funders can provide informed and empathetic support to WWUS, including those who are pregnant and parenting.

Author Biography

Suzette Claire Jackson, University of Auckland

Suzette Jackson (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki; MSW) is currently working on her PhD through the University of Auckland, is a registered social worker, and works part-time as a community counsellor in the addictions field.


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How to Cite

Jackson, S. C., Chubb, L. A., & de Haan, I. (2023). A scoping review of Aotearoa New Zealand women’s experiences of substance use, alcohol and drug services. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 35(3), 58–75. Retrieved from https://anzswjournal.nz/anzsw/article/view/1060



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