Doctor: Opioid Program Will Build on Pilot Successes

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(photo courtesy Community Health Network) (photo courtesy Community Health Network)

A physician at Community Hospital East in Indianapolis says the program announced Monday by Governor Eric Holcomb to curb opioid addiction among expectant mothers and newborn babies will expand upon efforts that have already seen success. Anthony Sanders says the funding from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration will help grow the program beyond Indy's east side.

The Community Health Network Neonatal Opioid Addiction Project was born out of a pilot program at Community East. Sanders says while a small number of women have successfully completed the program, more needs to be done to address the issue of opioid use disorder in pregnant women and children being born addicted to opioids, also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. 

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Sanders says while the problem of opioid abuse and NAS hasn't necessarily grown, the spotlight on it has gotten wider.

"Because of that and because of programs like what we have and also programs that address addiction in non-pregnant patients in general, the more available that they are and the more attention that this problem receives, the more impact that these programs are going to have," says Sanders. "One of the benefits of the spotlight on the problem is that it's starting to chip away at the stigma of addiction and, in particular, opioid addiction."

Sanders says the program not only provides medication-assisted therapy for mothers, but also group therapy with other moms in similar situations, one-on-one counseling addressing their addiction needs, and assistance with other mental health disorders. 

Sanders says the goal of the program is to eliminate NAS and opioid addiction among mothers, but there is a lot of work to be done before that can happen.

"We are still at the tip of the iceberg to say the least," he says. "We've had 67 women come through our program as of our last count over a year and a half to two years and that's just not enough because I know there are more women out there."

He says he hopes to expand the services offered through the program to other Community Health Network locations in central Indiana.

Sanders says while the problem of opioid abuse and NAS hasn't necessarily grown, the spotlight on it has gotten wider.
Sanders says the program has been going well but there's a lot of work still to do.
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