Local hospital provides help to mothers with substance use issues

May 23—ANDERSON — May is Women's Health Month, a time for focusing on health issues specifically affecting women. Those issues include maternal mortality and substance use disorder.

Substance use disorder was a contributing factor in 43% of all pregnancy-associated deaths in 2020, according to page 11 of the Indiana Maternal Mortality Review Committee's 2022 report.

Overdoses regardless of intent, accounted for more than 30% of pregnancy-associated deaths, making it the leading cause of death.

Most deaths occurred after birth with 60% occurring after six weeks.

In 2019, Community Hospital Anderson implemented the CHOICE program to help expecting moms experience long-term recovery and a safe pregnancy.

CHOICE stands for change, help, overcome, inspire, compassion and educate.

Such assistance begins with managing withdrawal symptoms, according to Dr. Erin Jeffries, an OBGYN from Community Hospital Anderson.

This includes admitting the patient to the labor and delivery unit for a few days and beginning medication-assisted treatment.

Medication-assisted treatment occurs when medication is used alongside counseling and therapy to treat substance use disorder, according to the Indiana Department of Health website.

Subutex, a type of suboxone deemed safe during pregnancy is used by the CHOICE program, according to Jeffries.

Upon reaching the correct dosage level, the patient is discharged.

After being discharged from their initial stay, patients will begin outpatient care.

Such help is available 24/7; all patients need to do is come to the hospital's labor and delivery department and request help.

Help doesn't end at birth but could continue for up to two years postpartum. Once the two years are up, the patient is referred to a primary care physician for continued treatment.

The one-year postpartum period is often a prime window for relapses; continued care could ensure long-term recovery, according to Jeffries.

More information about the CHOICE program is available at the Community Health Network website.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at caleb.amick@heraldbulletin.com or 765-648-4254.