New Collaboration Benefits Pregnant Women

New Collaboration Benefits Pregnant Women

Mutual respect and collaboration between abstinence-based providers and medication assisted treatment (MAT) clinics is being championed on behalf of pregnant women by Von Wrighten, DBHDD’s coordinator of addictive diseases initiatives (above left) and Wrayanne Glaze Parker, who oversees DBHDD’s women’s treatment and recovery services.

Attendees at the Opioid Treatment Providers of Georgia (OTPG) conference last fall included representatives from several abstinence-based women’s treatment and recovery programs.

DBHDD’s Von Wrighten, coordinator of Addictive Diseases Initiatives and Wrayanne Glaze Parker, DBHDD’s Women’s Program coordinator, arranged for leaders from ten women’s providers to attend the OTPG conference. “The field of addiction is evolving,” says Wrighten. “New research opens the door to new possibilities, and this annual conference gives participants a chance to learn more effective ways to serve clients.”

Studies of pregnant women on methadone indicate that babies born to mothers taking methadone may be just as healthy as other babies, with appropriate care after birth. According to “Methadone Treatment for Pregnant Women,” a SAMHSA publication for pregnant women, methadone and medication assisted treatment is safe for the baby, and keeping the mother free of withdrawal gives her an opportunity to take care of herself. “As women’s providers, these are things that we just can’t ignore,” says Parker.

Parker sees partnerships between abstinence-based women’s treatment programs and MAT programs or opioid treatment providers (OTPs) as a way to offer more comprehensive recovery support for pregnant women and women with children, particularly those with a history of injection drug use. According to studies supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medication assisted treatment enhances an opioid-dependent woman’s chances for a trouble-free pregnancy and a healthy baby compared to either continued drug use or un-medicated withdrawal. Residential care available through abstinence-based women’s programs can be important for a woman at risk for relapse due to an abusive or drug-using partner.

“Abstinence-based providers and MAT programs share a common vision. It’s time to start working together to promote healing.” – OTPG Conference Chair, Joelyn Alfred

Wrighten believes the field is changing for the better. “The stigma around addiction is eroding as the recovery movement continues to grow. People are shedding the shame and secrecy about past mistakes and that helps sustain recovery. Now, abstinence-based programs are beginning to form alliances with MAT programs. It’s an exciting time to be in the field.”