Eskenazi Health Circle of Recovery for Families Offers Substance Use Disorder Care for Pregnant People and Families

As the opioid epidemic continues throughout the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is a public health concern regarding the use of opioids and other substances in pregnancy. Pregnant individuals who use opioids or other substances sometimes do not seek prenatal care due to fear or shame. Lack of medical care puts pregnant patients and their babies at risk for serious health complications.

Eskenazi Health Circle of Recovery for Families was established in 2019 and offers services for pregnant people with opioid and other substance use disorders. In addition to prenatal care, the patient is provided substance use disorder treatment and postpartum primary care for their family. Sarah Gopman, M.D., medical director, said her goal was to create a personal experience for patients in an environment where they feel safe and respected and can receive the care they need for a healthy pregnancy and beyond.

Patients can request an appointment to see Dr. Gopman at Eskenazi Health Center Primary Care or can be referred for services. Initial consultations are unique to each individual, depending on current health and substance use. Once a patient is established in the program, Dr. Gopman then provides the patient’s prenatal care in addition to substance use disorder treatment, which could include prescribing medication such as buprenorphine (Suboxone/Subutex) or coordinating methadone management. The best medication, Dr. Gopman said, is the one that works best for the individual.

Dr. Gopman also helps patients prepare for delivery and creates a plan for pain management during labor. Talking about this ahead of time is important, she said, especially for patients who are having a planned cesarean delivery. Dr. Gopman works with the patient and their care team to create the best plan, adjust current medications, and decide which medications would work best during delivery in anticipation for each unique birth experience.

Once the baby is born, the parent and child return to Dr. Gopman for postpartum visits and well-baby check-ups in the same appointment, providing as seamless of an experience as possible. Patients also meet with a substance use disorder therapist, who sees patients in-person during existing appointments or virtually, depending on preference.

Other care team members, including a social worker, dietitian and pharmacist, are also available to help with any needs the patient may have. In addition to access to Eskenazi Health’s network of primary and specialty services, doulas, parenting support services, and counseling for chosen support partners is also available.

“We take a lot of barriers away when we provide that opportunity for patients to be able to continue all of those aspects of their care in one location,” Dr. Gopman said.

One of Dr. Gopman’s patients, Maryah, started care through Circle of Recovery for Families when she was midway through her pregnancy. She’s more than a year postpartum, is in recovery from substance use and continues to receive care from Dr. Gopman and her care team for both her and her young child, often during the same visit.

“She tries to make it very easy for me,” Maryah said of her visits with Dr. Gopman.

Dr. Gopman views her relationships with her patients as a partnership, with her being an advocate. She and her team give patients the opportunity, tools and resources to find their way out of substance use while promoting a path of healthy living for themselves and their families.

“It’s a huge honor to be present with somebody when they’re experiencing those things and to be trusted,” Dr. Gopman said. “Every time we have a patient in clinic, we have an opportunity to help them toward their healing.”

To request an appointment with Dr. Gopman, please click here or call 317.880.5950. To learn more about Circle of Recovery for Families, please click here.

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