January 14, 2019

Toward the end of 2017, President Donald Trump declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency. The crisis has been decades in the making, and the effects have been far-reaching and devastating for families across the country - particularly in the mountain state. West Virginia has the highest death rate from opioid addiction in the country.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Center at CAMC Women and Children's Hospital is providing an opportunity for addiction treatment right here in our community. Its Women's Health Addictions Program is staffed with board-certified physicians and highly-trained clinicians to provide treatment for opiate-dependent women in West Virginia. The program follows an office-based, medication-assisted treatment model, which combines medication and counseling to help patients become and remain drug-free.

Experts regard medications like methadone or buprenorphine as the gold standard for treatment for opioid addiction. Use of these medications has been shown to reduce the mortality rate among addicted patients by half or more. These medications, when taken as prescribed, eliminate cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but without producing the same euphoric high of illicit drugs like heroin and other opioids.

The Women's Health Addiction Program at CAMC uses medication-assisted treatment, but unlike many rehabilitation programs, the eventual goal of treatment is abstinence, not maintenance. "We have a unique program that is abstinence-based," said Byron Calhoun, MD. "We perform therapeutic adjustments to medications to achieve abstinence at the patient's request and the therapeutic adjustment can prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)."

Patients in the program have regular medical evaluations and frequent urine screens. They attend weekly group therapy sessions and monthly individual counseling at the CAMC Family Resource Center as they proceed through their recovery. The program is covered by most insurance providers, including Medicaid.

"I am glad we can provide a positive resource for the pregnant population in West Virginia," said Paul Dietz, MD. "Our goal is to provide a healthy option so these women can be able to raise healthy families. We also provide multiple resources for their addiction management including counseling and peer support."

"When you support women in recovery, you are investing in the entire family," said Ashley Murphy, LICSW, MAC, AADC. "Pregnant women struggling with addiction face many complex issues and stressors when trying to make the transition into recovery. We provide medical, psychological, emotional and social support services to help them successfully make this transition."

For more information, visit camc.org/womens-health-addictions-program or call (304) 388-2427.

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