It can be observed that through the years, drug addiction has become a very serious problem in different aspects. More than ever, more people are committing drug overdose now, younger people are more daring to try drugs, and more women are willing to their risk their own lives and that of their family just because of drugs. There are even so many pregnant women who still use drugs, without considering how detrimental it can be for their unborn child.
This has led local officials to exert more effort to address pregnancy and addiction with new treatment programs. The new Substance-free Pregnancy and Recovery Coalition or SPARC is an initiative Chippewa County officials say is a response to the growing drug epidemic. “SPARC came about as a result of an observation in Chippewa County about the number of kids who are being removed from their homes due to this meth epidemic,” said Melissa Ives, contracted Project Manager for the Chippewa County Department of Human Services.
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The new program geared towards expectant mothers, fighting addiction hopes to change that. The project aims at identifying pregnant women upfront who many need to be referred to treatment.
“Initial identification may be made by a number of different entities…it may be made by the health provider, may be the substance use provider, could be a social worker, could be a health department worker,” said Ives.
She adds that the program explores potential barriers that prevent women from coming in and obtaining care.
“One of those is the fear that the baby will be taken away from them…that is not what we want,” said Ives. She says the program aims at treating mothers in a way that allows her to keep custody of her baby. The goal is to keep families intact for the long run.
Many local health providers are getting involved in the program as addiction poses a huge risk to pregnant mothers and their babies. Katie Jelinek, Registered Nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital treats patients in both Chippewa and Eau Claire Counties. She says there is a great need for a program like this in the area.