Pregnant women fight addiction


As the rate of opioid addiction continues to rise in Minnesota, it only makes sense that the number of addicted pregnant women will also rise. To be addicted and pregnant is a toxic situation: Expectant mothers feel guilt, shame and anxiety about the fate of their future children, but when they reach out for help, they often run into a dead end. Most addiction treatment programs do not accept pregnant women.

The Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Services Program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul is the only inpatient program in the state that accepts pregnant women. Earlier this year, as staff began to notice that enrollment of expectant mothers was on the rise, they decided to create Best Start for Moms and Babies, a comprehensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation program designed specifically to meet the needs of this vulnerable population. To meet patients’ unique needs, they teamed with midwives, behavioral health providers, and addiction medicine physicians to create a holistic program designed to give patients and their future children higher odds at success.

I wanted to hear more about Best Start for Moms and Babies, so I spoke with Kathryn Manning, M.D., St. Joseph’s senior medical director of mental health and addiction care. She told me that the number of addicted pregnant women is on the rise, and she thinks those numbers will continue to increase over the next few years.

With Best Start’s close attention to the specific needs of pregnant women facing addiction, Manning said that her staff hopes to change the course for these women’s futures: “With education and compassion,” she said, “we want to help them truly understand the source of addictions and find a way to move beyond them.”