Yolanda Ross


Opioid Dependency Among Pregnant Women: The Need To Explore Gender-Responsive Treatment


Due to the growing opioid crisis in the United States, this has led to one of the most significant public health and public safety concerns, particularly among pregnant women. Research shows due to the over-prescription of opioid pain medication, along with the rising prevalence of heroin and synthetic fentanyl use, this phenomenon has greatly contributed to the alarming increase of opioid use disorders (OUDs) among this population. As a result, pregnant women with an opioid use disorder (OUD) often face numerous barriers when seeking prenatal care and substance use treatment. In addition, studies have indicated that infants are at a higher risk of developing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) when women use opioids during pregnancy. This capstone presentation offers a comprehensive overview regarding the various barriers that impede this population from receiving essential prenatal care and services. Furthermore, this presentation will explore how the Reproductive Justice framework and Black Feminist theory can provide a holistic approach that prioritizes a gender-responsive model. Finally, this presentation will highlight the importance of a workshop that emphasizes integrative and interdisciplinary approaches for providing evidence-based care to pregnant and parenting women with OUD.


Yolanda Ross is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker-Supervisor (LCSW-S) and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) in the state of Texas and has over a decade of experience in the field of substance use disorders. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston Clear Lake in 2012, her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston in 2016, and a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Houston Clear Lake in 2022. She is currently in her final semester of pursuing a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) from the University of Kentucky, with a prospective graduation date of May 3, 2024.

Yolanda has extensive knowledge and experience as a licensed clinical social worker and addiction counselor in various settings, including residential and outpatient substance use treatment, psychiatric/mental health, HIV/AIDS case management, and acute care hospitals. Yolanda is deeply committed to supporting women with children who have been impacted by addiction. As a doctoral candidate, Yolanda’s research is centered on addressing systematic and interpersonal barriers among opioid-dependent pregnant women. Her capstone project, titled Opioid Dependency Among Pregnant Women: The Need to Explore Gender-Responsive Treatment, consists of three products that examine the impact of stigma and punitive measures towards pregnant women with an opioid use disorder (OUD), which are often perceived as a global barrier to essential health-seeking behaviors, engagement in care and access to substance use and recovery support services. Yolanda is a proud member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP).