ANDERSON — A treatment program for pregnant women and mothers dealing with substance abuse is now offering services remotely in Madison County.

Meridian Health Services had planned to open its Maternal Treatment Program last spring but the pandemic postponed the opening until November.

It is open to pregnant women and mothers dealing with substance abuse.

“We work off evidence-based treatment specific to that population — women with a substance use disorder, and usually a co-occurring mental health disorder,” said Alysha Nemore, Meridian’s children’s services program manager for Delaware and Madison counties.

Services offered by the program include group therapy three times a week, individual counseling, classes in parenting, nutrition and budgeting, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

“We provide them with Suboxone throughout their pregnancy and then make a plan to wean them off of that medication when it’s safe after delivery,” Nemore said. “When you’re pregnant and using opioids, it’s not safe to detox.”

Bringing women together fighting the same issues can be beneficial as they discover others facing the same struggles.

“So once they get started they’re like ‘oh my gosh, this is exactly what I needed,’ and so we are seeing a lot of success,” Nemore said.

Nemore can be reached at 765-729-3285.

Women in the program can also get connected with other Meridian services.

“It’s not uncommon sometimes that mothers will come to us in their third or fourth or later months of pregnancy and haven’t seen a medical provider yet, so those are just the things we really get them connected with,” said Lisa Suttle, regional vice president of clinical services at Meridian Health Services.

Women can be referred by local agencies and health care providers, but don’t need a referral and can contact Meridian directly.

The program originated in Muncie in 2017 after Terri Milius saw babies born dependent upon opiates while volunteering at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and asked her husband, Meridian CEO Hank Milius, what could be done.

The Rialzo fundraiser helps fund the program, and women aren’t turned away if they don’t have insurance.

“We get you into the program, get you set up with someone to help you with Medicaid if appropriate or some type of insurance, but it’s not a requirement,” Suttle said.

Follow Don Knight on Twitter @donwknight,

or call 765-622-1212 ext. 204567.

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