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Substance use & pregnancy

  • Season: Season 4
  • Posted On:

Fear, stigma, and the power of compassion

Addiction and overdose rates have reached historic levels in the last several years. And while fentanyl and synthetic opioids are responsible for much of the surge, cocaine and other stimulants such as methamphetamine are playing an increasingly common role. Addiction problems are not rare (it's estimated that 10% of the population has substance use disorder) and they don't go away because someone is pregnant.

Substance use during pregnancy -- whether of licit or illicit substances -- can complicate pregnancy and may pose a risk for the fetus. And because of the stigma associated with substance use, many people forego prenatal care, further complicating the pregnancy.

Host Seán Collins talks with two healthcare professionals about their efforts to reach people with substance use disorders to help them care for themselves and their fetus.

Collin Schenk, M.D., is an Addiction Recovery Services physician at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. Kirsten Lavery, RN, MSN is the Nurse Manager for Addiction Recovery Services. In addition, we hear from Jennifer Justice, a parent ally at the FIRST Legal Clinic in Seattle, about her own story of recovery and her work now helping others during their pregnancies.

An extended excerpt from Jennifer Justice's conversation with Kirsten Lavery is available here.



  • Collin Schenk M.D.
  • Kirsten Lavery RN MSN
  • Jennifer Justice
  • Seán Collins


  • substance use disorder
  • pregnancy
  • substance use