Ohio Starts Program to Help Pregnant Women Addicted to Heroin

By Shawn Dwyer 05/27/14

Unlike nearby Tennessee, which will punish women with jail, Ohio will give a small number of pregnant women hope and a chance to give birth clean.

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According to local reports, four programs in the state of Ohio will dole out grant money that will help pregnant women addicted to heroin or other opioid drugs to receive treatment.

The three-year, $4.2 million program will benefit some 300 women in Cuyahoga, Athens, Franklin, and Hamilton counties, who will go through drug treatment and counseling in order to protect their unborn children.

“If we can intervene early and make an impact, then the more likely we are to create a situation where the mom is not as reliant on crisis services and emergency services, and the same for the young child,” said Brad DeCamp, program chief for the state’s opioid treatment policy.

Like most of the country, Ohio has seen a sharp increase in heroin addiction and overdoses, particularly among pregnant women. In 2007, fatal drug overdoses surpassed fatal car crashes as the state’s top cause of accidental death. Meanwhile, Ohio has seen a drastic rise in the number of drug addicted babies, rising from 14 per 10,000 live births in 2004 to 88 per 10,000 live births in 2011.

Because caring for addicted babies has proven both costly and heartbreaking, DeCamp hopes that the program will help get mothers off drugs before their babies are born, thus reducing their stay in the intensive care unit after birth. The program will also continue drug treatment for mothers after birth with the hope of preventing relapse.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.