Meridian opens new center for women struggling with addiction

From The Star Press

To help women struggling with substance abuse across the state, Meridian Health Services recently opened the Women’s Recovery Home along Wheeling Avenue.

A residential program, the home provides a two-phase care plan for women, including mental health and medical services.

The impetus for the home came from Meridian’s Maternal Treatment Program, which provides care for drug-addicted mothers and their newborn babies. Erin Paul, manager of the home, told The Star Press there was a need for a safe place for women to work on their treatment.

“Women’s response to addiction issues are a little bit different sometimes than what men’s are, so being a place that focused solely on what women’s needs were was something that we found to be a need,” Paul said.

The home opened in early September, and is currently accepting referrals; already, many are coming in, said Lisa Suttle, regional vice president of clinical services at Meridian.

Many of the referrals come from probation officers or prosecutors’ offices and the facility also is working with mothers in the Maternal Treatment Program and Meridian’s Addictions and Recovery Center (ARC) in Richmond and West Lafayette.

While the Maternal Treatment Program works in tandem with the recovery home, any woman with substance abuse issues can be referred, Suttle said. The women do not have to be mothers and there is no age limit.

“We’ll take patients throughout the state,” Suttle said. “We’re looking at each individual case and seeing what our program can offer and what we can do to help.”

Those being referred to the program don’t have to be patients of Meridian, but if admitted, will become patients of the healthcare system, Paul said. Once accepted into the home, patients will be connected to all care at Meridian.

“We are a group home setting, so we’re kind of like a step down from that inpatient rehab,” Paul said. “So, if they’re needing a higher level of treatment, we will then connect them with the most appropriate level of treatment for them.”

Referrals aren’t necessary, and those interested can call 866-306-2647. From there, they will be connected to Paul.

“I’d talk through what’s going on with that, what kind of substances they’re on, when their last use was, what they’re hoping to get out of treatment,” Paul said.

The Women’s Recovery Home has 10 beds. If a mother’s baby is between newborn and three months, the child can be admitted with her. Women with children in the home will have a room to themselves. For women who have older children, supervised visits are available.

Medication-assisted treatment also is provided with suboxone and vivitrol, Suttle said. However, the home does not provide detox for alcohol or benzos addictions. If an applicant has completed detox already, they can still be considered a candidate for the home.

The program can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, but Suttle said it’s important for patients to stay the full time.

“It really does take that long for someone to really get to the place where they’re ready for out-patient services, or that follow-up and aftercare that occurs,” Suttle said.

How long the women stay will depend on what treatment needs are and how well they’re accomplishing goals. Paul said residents should be there long enough to compete intensive outpatient treatment, a group that meets three times weekly, three hours each day, for six to eight weeks.

As for the future of the program, Suttle hopes to see it expand, both in the number of beds and number of homes. Already, Meridian is looking at opening other locations.

With addiction on the rise, Paul said it’s important for people to go through treatment in a safe and secure environment and that they’re not still surrounded by things that are feeding into that addiction.

“Since we’re new, my hopes are that we’ll fill up quickly and that we will see a lot of women come through here and focus on their treatment, focus on what their needs are without all of those interferences from the outside world, so they can get the tools they need in order to be successful once they leave the home,” Paul said.