Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Family studies

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of MA in Child, Family and Community Studies to the Technological University Dublin, 2010.


Although much has been written in recent times about women’s drug use, there has been a scarcity of research into motherhood and drug use in Ireland as it remains both a complex and sensitive issue. Since the 1980’s Ireland has seen a dramatic and unprecedented increase in the availability of illicit drugs. This increased availability reflects rising consumption of illicit drugs amongst women. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions that a sample of professional workers hold of mothers who use illicit drugs in Ireland. The study reviews the literature applicable to the area of drug use and motherhood with, looking at both Irish research and international research in gaining an accurate picture of drug use and motherhood. The study examines the issues that mothers are faced with and examines factors such as Parenting and Childcare. It also examines in thorough detail the stigmatisation which is prevalent in Irish society and amongst professionals who come into contact with mothers who use drugs. A qualitative approach was adopted in order to gain insights into the professional’s views towards this marginal group. The qualitative techniques used were semi structured interviews with a variety of disciplines and participant observations in a family support organisation that worked with many service users, some of which were mothers who used drugs. The data was obtained and analysed using five dominant themes throughout the findings. Both primary and secondary data was analysed and reviewed accordingly. The findings from the research highlight many important factors in relation to the care that mothers who use drugs access. Many Professionals held ambivalent attitudes towards mothers and there was a general consensus that drug use and motherhood is mutually exclusive. It emerged that varying groups of professions perceive mothers in very different ways and many appear to approach it from a deficits perspective.