Tough as a Mother

Drug-related deaths during pregnancy, and foster care placements associated with a parent’s substance use, are on the rise but are preventable. Whether it’s during pregnancy, post-partum, or in the post-baby years, parents and families dealing with addiction issues need support and treatment to overcome the substance use disorder that affects a child and its family.

Enter the State of Colorado’s Tough as a Mother, a non-profit organization, the mission of which is to decrease stigma, educate providers, and connect pregnant and parenting mothers to treatment and recovery supports using “gender-responsive” treatment. The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health and several partners began the statewide initiative on Mother’s Day in 2020. The program focuses on allowing women to focus on their mental, emotional, and physical health by providing them with numerous outreach and support services (e.g., parenting classes and peer support groups) and provides a level of care that is tailored to each client and her family’s needs.

The program’s website provides an interactive map of every city in Colorado and where individuals can be connected to numerous resources such as food, housing, childcare, and substance use and mental health support. Among other things, the initiative also created a toolkit on how to “survive the holidays” and launched a recovery coach-led, weekly, online support group, Tougher Together, for mothers in recovery.

The program can be replicated in any state, and some have already done so, like Oklahoma, which started its statewide Tough as a Mother initiative in July of 2023.