Kuster, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Officials Discuss Substance Misuse Treatment Program, Support for New Mothers and Babies
(Lebanon, NH) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, joined Dr. Julie Frew the Director of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Addiction Treatment Program, as well as patients and care providers, to discuss the “Moms in Recovery” program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, which supports mothers struggling with substance use disorder. The “Moms in Recovery” program provides screening, brief interventions, extended outpatient treatment and group intensive outpatient treatment for pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorders. Recently, Kuster unveiled the legislative agenda for the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. The agenda includes the CRIB Act, which is aimed at supporting efforts to treat babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Jennifer Comeau, 30, of Lebanon, NH, was one of the patients in the Moms in Recovery program who talked with Rep. Kuster. She said that she would be in jail or dead if she had not had access to treatment.
Holding her two-month-old son Jaxxon, Ms. Comeau said the clinical providers and the other mothers in the program provide a safe place to deal with the issues of substance misuse.
“They understand women here,” she said. “We have a commonality that is so important to recovery and to be clean.”
Kuster asked the women to name the greatest challenges facing women in the substance misuse community. Comeau said safe and affordable housing and access to rehab treatment are the highest priorities.
“I feel blessed to be here and have a healthy child,” she said.
“The work being done at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Moms in Recovery program is critical not only to getting mothers with substance use disorder the treatment and recovery services they need but also to setting up their babies and families for long term success,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Overcoming substance use disorder is a daunting challenge but with the support of the dedicated staff at Dartmouth-Hitchcock these mothers are taking an important step toward getting themselves and their families on the right track. We need to overcome the stigma of substance use disorder so that individuals will seek out the treatment and recovery services they need. I appreciate the courage of people like Jennifer who are willing to discuss their road to recovery. I’ll continue to work across the aisle to support programs that will help us tackle the opioid epidemic.”
“We started the Moms in Recovery Program because we recognized that pregnant women with opioid use disorders found it difficult to attend multiple appointments in different locations, so were missing scheduled appointments and not receiving the best possible care,” said Dr. Julie Frew, Director of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Addiction Treatment Program. “Providing integrated obstetric care and addiction treatment improves outcomes for these women and their children.
“Over the four and a half years since the program began, we have learned from the women participating what they need and have been able to provide additional services to help them in their recovery. We now offer recovery coaching (peer support), case management for help connecting to community resources, parenting education, supervised playtime for children while their moms are in treatment, and an on-site food shelf and diaper bank in addition to addiction treatment, psychiatric care, women’s health care, and pediatric care. We provide medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine (Suboxone), but also serve some women who attend our local methadone program.”
Frew continued, “We will soon be adding a women-only, pregnancy and parenting focused Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to the services we provide. An IOP provides three hours per day of treatment, three days per week, and can often be helpful to women who need more support than traditional once a week outpatient services. We will continue to offer supervised playtime for children while moms are in treatment, since our participants tell us that lack of childcare is a major barrier to treatment.”