Substance Abuse Programs in Lexington Assist New Mothers

Substance Abuse Programs in Lexington Assist New Mothers

Substance abuse programs in Lexington, Kentucky are about to receive a boost thanks to a federal grant that will help them treat pregnant women and new mothers in Fayette County.

The University of Kentucky acquired approximately $5 million to extend and enhance programs that cater to pregnant women struggling with substance use disorder.

One of the substance abuse programs benefiting from this is the Perinatal Assistance and Treatment Home (PATHways) program. PATHways provides women with medicine or support services in order to prevent their children from being born with an opioid addiction. After the child is born, therapy and peer counseling are continued.

PATHways is a community-based treatment center that was established in 1967. The facility has numerous substance abuse programs in over 50 locations across the U.S.

Their philosophy is to give a best combination of prevention and addiction treatment services that is intended to help the public.

There were 162 people that died from drug-related overdoses in Fayette County in 2016, which was an increase from the 141 deaths in 2015, according to the 2016 ODCP Overdose Fatality Report Final.

PATHways has helped more than 150 women between 2014 and early 2017. It was estimated that 77 percent of the women assisted were taken to the hospital to deliver their children and were free of substances in their bodies.

A mother is 50 percent less likely to relapse after birth when they attend group meetings in treatment facilities or enter substance abuse programs. And they are also 15 percent more likely to have a negative drug test.

Mothers often endure medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in order to attempt to overcome their addiction. As a result of that, many babies who are both to women who are on MAT often are reported to have withdrawals. It is estimated that between 40 and 58 percent of children of women on MAT experience withdrawals but at PATHways only 30 percent of newborns go through withdrawals.  

Researchers from the United Kingdom are studying two components of the PATHways program thanks to the $5 million grant from the Patient-Center Outcomes Research Institute. In one group, women will attend pregnancy educational groups and participate in peer support groups every other week. In the other group, women will meet via telemedicine, which is a therapy setting in technological form.

Three years ago, Dr. Agatha Critchfield, the PATHways medical director, assisted in starting the program due to the fact that she personally watched women who were struggling with substance use disorders give birth without any assistance or support. She stated that because of this, mothers and their children would remain addicted and then eventually child protective services would separate them.

Critchfield indicated that the PATHways program has had great success over the last three years. She stated that this specific version of PATHways is only available at the Lexington location, which makes it difficult for many people who need treatment but live far away and lack transportation.

Kentucky saw 1,115 babies be diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in 2016, according to a report from the Annual Report Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Kentucky.

In this past legislative season, there was pressure put on potential mothers struggling with substance abuse. The General Assembly declared in a house bill that mothers that exposed their children to NAS could be subject to child abuse charges. Kentucky would potentially take the children away unless they enrolled in substance abuse programs within three months of giving birth.