UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Left him in the dust:" father exclusion from maternal harm reduction services Weaver, Sydney Michelle


This study was conducted in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, with former patients of a harm reduction maternity ward serving pregnant women who use illicit drugs in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. This district is one of Canada’s poorest urban neighbourhoods. The purpose of this study was to build theory, based on how fathers and mothers were affected by father exclusion, to inform development of more effective services for substance-using parents. The study demonstrates how father exclusion from services offered at a harm reduction hospital maternity unit affects fathers and mothers struggling with problematic drug use. A qualitative approach, constructivist grounded theory, was used. A purposeful sampling method was employed to recruit 20 parents, 10 mothers and 10 fathers, for individual interviews and a focus group. Grounded theory method highlighted how structural conditions of addictions services recursively interact with experiences of fathers and mothers, amplifying obstacles experienced by parents using illicit drugs, such as poverty, stigma, racism and homelessness. Fathers’ gender-based exclusion compounded feelings of exclusion based on race and class, and negatively affected mothers. The study findings: contest the tenets of ‘difference’ feminist theory that underpin contemporary addictions services for women; demonstrate the importance of including fathers in antenatal, natal and postnatal addictions services; and contribute to theory aimed at disrupting and destabilizing gender norms.

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