Doctors say controversial treatment for new moms with drug addiction a success

Published: Feb. 18, 2019 at 5:51 PM EST
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Doctors say a treatment strategy is a proven success in battling the opioid epidemic among new mothers even though it still has some opponents.

Since the beginning of the opioid epidemic, there has been a disconnect in treatment for pregnant women and continuing that treatment after they give birth.

Many times, pregnant women would be prescribed a form of medically assisted treatment (MAT), and then after the baby came, they'd go back to their old habits. But now, treatment specialists are making sure the new moms stay on track after they have given birth.

"It was almost like, 'This is okay. I can be a mom again. I can have that title back. I have this other chance,'" Bethany Wilson explained.

Wilson went through the recently-opened University of Kentucky "Pathways Beyond Birth" program to continue to receive MAT. MAT, like Suboxone, has been a controversial treatment for opioid abuse because of diversion and its own abuse tendencies.

However, Wilson said MAT can also save lives.

"A lot of times we look at each other, and we're like, 'Well, you're not sober because you're on MAT.'"

She said the more people start talking about MAT as an option for treatment, the better off new mothers will be.

"It's very hush, hush. So if you don't hear those and you're hearing negative things, it won't move forward and get better."

Wilson was close to death battling a heart problem caused by drug abuse.

"I had endocarditis. I was in septic shock, I had a stroke, I was suffering from liver and kidney failure -- all these different things," she recalled. "They called my family in to come and say their goodbyes. They didn't expect me to make it through the first night."

Wilson stayed in the hospital for months. When she was discharged, she was to serve one year in jail because of prior legal issues, but she only made it about a month before the infection put her back in the hospital. She ended up being incarcerated in the hospital.

"Even after all of that, I still struggled to be sober," Wilson said, admitting to once again using drugs.

She said she then found out she was pregnant and was sent to Pathways, and she never looked back.

Wilson is now a poster child for success. She's been sober for three years.