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WINCHESTER, Ind.–Thousands of people in Indiana are being treated for addiction to pain meds and heroin. Some of those Hoosiers are pregnant women, and some of those women have babies that are born addicted. Hope for those babies and the mothers, may be in a residential treatment program.

“A lot of our NICUs (intensive care for babies) have babies in it that they’re taking care of that they’re weaning off of opiates,” said Shannon Schumacher, executive vice-president of Volunteers for America. They run residential treatment programs in Indianapolis, Evansville and Winchester.

“When they give birth, their babies can test positive for opiates and they have what is called neo-natal abstinence syndrome, and those babies often have to be in the NICU,” she said. 

She said sometimes it is dangerous for the baby for the mom to just quit opioids cold turkey, while she is pregnant.

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“People have said, why don’t they just quit when they’re pregnant? That’s contra-indicated because coming off of opiates there is some evidence of a higher incidence of miscarriage,” said Schumacher.

She said some of their programs involve expectant mothers who are on opiates, then have thier babies, and then come back.

“We have our Fresh Start program, which is unique because we target pregnant women and they can stay in the program until they give birth to their babies and then they can bring the babies with them to the residential treatment.”

Schumacher said she believes residential treatment is effective because it allows people to get away from people or situations that enable them to use. Their program is being evaluated by Ball State University for effectiveness.

“Most of the people stay anywhere from 30 days to nine weeks, depending on the severity of the issue,” she said. 

Shumacher said she has helped people through several drug epidemics, but people are becoming addicted quicker, and more people are being affected by the opioid crisis, then the crack or cocaine epidemics.

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