WV Fights Back: clinic for pregnant women battling addiction

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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Having an abuse problem is largely stigmatized, but having a problem while being an expectant mother is something even fewer women come forward about.

The Chestnut Ridge Center on WVU's medical campus provides a clinical pregnancy track for expectant moms trying to get help. One big help provided at the clinic is a drug to eliminate drug cravings during the pregnancy.

"It really reduces cravings for their substance of choice (opioids)," said Laura Lander, an addiction therapist at Chestnut Ridge Center. "It also helps treat withdrawal symptoms."

The clinic has had problems in the past with people abusing drugs used to treat withdrawal, but they now use suboxone; which is faring better for moms and babies coming through the clinic.

"People take it and within 15-20 minutes, if they're in acute withdrawal, they will start to feel better. It's really powerful in that sense and patients get pretty quick relief from both cravings and withdrawal symptoms."

As more women come forward, healthcare providers feel like their clinic is making a difference in West Virginia's opioid battle.

"We're seeing more and more pregnant women come forward which is great," said Lander. "To me that's an indication that pregnant women are feeling more comfortable because we know stigmas keep people from seeking treatment. Especially pregnant women."

Moving forward the clinic hopes to provide an all-encompassing treatment program to help moms well after they deliver their babies

"OBGYN services, pediatric services, and recovery services potentially all in one location. That way a patient could come and see their OB, get their substance abuse treatment, and even have their child have a pediatric appointment all at the same time."