University Of Alabama Program Helps Pregnant Women Battling Addiction


The University of Alabama has set up a Comprehensive Addiction in Pregnancy Program to help mothers who face challenges and confusion about how to access available resources to reach sobriety in both pregnancy and motherhood.

According to UAB News, this Comprehensive Addiction in Pregnancy Program (CAPP) within the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine was funded by the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation General Endowment Fund and the Children’s Bureau. In Alabama, it is a felony offense to use drugs during pregnancy, as a result of the state’s Chemical Endangerment Law. CAPP’s multidisciplinary, outpatient approach aims to help vulnerable mothers who voluntarily enter the program with prenatal and postnatal care, navigating government systems and resources, social work support, opioid replacement therapy, and ultimately, recovery.

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In April of 2019, CAPP celebrated its first year of care, enrolling 48 women in the program. Since July 2018, 22 women have successfully completed a treatment program.

“The women we treat face tremendous barriers to care during pregnancy, including social stigma, legal consequences, transportation, poor communications between providers and limited facilities for addiction treatment programs,” said Lorie Harper, M.D., maternal-fetal medicine specialist and director of CAPP. “In this first year, we have exceeded our own expectations and have created a sustainable model of care for vulnerable patients who not only need our direction and resources, but truly are buying into our program of sobriety and success.”

CAPP is one-of-a-kind in the state of Alabama, and provides a full complement of obstetric addiction therapy, including opioid replacement therapy, subspecialty pediatric follow-up, care coordination, social services, peer recovery support and in-home parenting education. Many of the mothers CAPP supports would not seek recovery-based services during pregnancy out of fear of criminal consequences and the shame often associated with substance use.

opioid pregnancy

CAPP’s directors see countless ways to continue to grow the program in time, including reaching more patients outside of UAB’s direct Birmingham footprint with telemedicine, supporting fathers in the pre- and postnatal journey, continued postpartum care, and connecting to early intervention services, as well as in identifying further community support.

One example of such support that can impact the program’s offerings is the creation of the “CAPP Cash Program” with a grant from the Jefferson County Public Health Advised Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. With the generous gift, CAPP plans to open a store within the clinic where mothers can shop for items including car seats and other necessities. This teaches patients accountability and positive rewards association while helping them secure items they need in order to care for their baby.

Muir also explains that there is such a need for CAPP’s services and system, that expansion is inevitable as more expectant mothers seek support.

“We’re working hard to remove barriers to care, and while we need to continue to focus on what we can do locally, I look forward to being able to take this a few circles out and see if we can have an impact on a bigger footprint and population,” Muir said.

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