Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

Substance abuse is a significant social problem in America. It is estimated that some eighteen million Americans have an alcohol abuse problem and that almost five million have a drug abuse problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs some $700 billion per year Substance abuse is a major contributor to child maltreatment. It is estimated that between one- and two-thirds of cases in which children enter foster care are linked to parental substance abuse. Unfortunately, this may be an underestimate as recent research suggests that many cases, particularly cases in which children have been exposed to alcohol in utero, are missed or improperly diagnosed. Of particular concern is substance abuse by pregnant women. Each instance of substance abuse increases the risk of inflicting serious and lasting harm on the future child! Three parties' interests are at issue when determining how to address substance use or abuse by pregnant women: the pregnant woman's interest, the inchoate child's interest, and the State's interest. Before the intersection of these interests can be properly explored, however, a few definitions must be established.


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