Accessing medication-assisted treatment in jail is an uphill battle for pregnant people | State and Regional News

A recent study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that 60% of the 836 jails surveyed across the country provide MAT to pregnant people in their jails. That means that 40% of those jails did not. In North Carolina, a handful of counties offer MAT in jails, but it depends where you are.

MAT for pregnant people in jails

MAT helps stabilize pregnant people while preventing them from experiencing painful withdrawal, which can put stress on both them and their unborn baby, said Carolyn Sufrin, one of the paper’s authors and an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University. 

“To do that in a jail setting where you don’t have any control over your environment, your temperature, your ease of access to water, the toilet, it’s a pretty miserable experience,” Sufrin said.

There is not a clear-cut causal relationship between withdrawal and miscarriage, Sufrin said, but it can cause dehydration, which could affect blood flow to the fetus or cause preterm contractions.

More importantly, withdrawal, “doesn’t work, and it can be fatal” if a pregnant person returns to drug use and overdoses, Sufrin said.