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Banner hospital’s HEAL program helps moms battling substance abuse

The program aims at helping expecting and new mothers to battle their addictions safely by providing resources and medical care.
Credit: 12 News

PHOENIX — Just in time for Mental Heath Awareness Month, several doctors and clinical team members at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix have started a new intensive outpatient program for women struggling with addiction.

The HEAL program offers resources and treatment options to new moms and women navigating pregnancy while working toward sobriety. 

The program has already started helping struggling moms and their babies to not only survive, but thrive.

Pregnancy is a unique and personal journey for every woman, but when substance use, addiction and dependency are part of the journey, it can be difficult to know where to turn.

“Honestly, it was a little scary at first,” said new mom Laura D. “Once they gave her oxygen, she peaked back up. ‘

She knows the struggles all too well, and said she took fentanyl pills every day when she was pregnant.

Shortly after giving birth to her precious baby girl Elizabeth Grace she noticed the impact of her substance use.

“Screams here and there and the tremors when you unwrap her,” she remembered.

Thankfully, little Elizabeth is now doing great and Laura is getting help through the HEAL program to beat her addiction.

“We were able to get her on not only medication, but to help with her OBGYN care and that baby was born without neonatal abstinence syndrome, which is when a baby is born passively dependent to opioids or the drug their mom was taking,” said Dr. Laura Stewart, program director and clinical psychologist. “It could be alcohol, it could be prescription pain pills that they’re using, it could be opioids that they’re buying on the street.”

Stewart says the program offers resources, treatment options, and support groups to help new moms navigate their pregnancy under difficult circumstances.

“It’s really designed to catch moms-to-be, when they’re in potentially the most vulnerable and challenging place in their entire lives,” Steward said.

The program is working to empower expecting and new moms like Laura through their new journey into motherhood.

“They said hey – you’re going to be OK, lets talk about it and lets get you where you need to be as well as the baby and they did and I felt super comfortable and super grateful for that,” she said.

“Moms that are struggling for help, let go of the shame and guilt and be brave enough to ask for help,” Stewart said.

Laura has been sober since March and has been cleared to breastfeed her baby, taking every step needed to be there for her daughter.

For more information on the HEAL program, visit the Banner Health website.

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