Ky. gets $3 million grant to expand substance abuse treatment for pregnant women after big jump in drug-dependent newborns

Kentucky will receive up to $3 million in federal grants over three years to provide expanded substance abuse treatment for pregnant and postpartum women in the Bluegrass and Cumberland regions of the state, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“Pregnant women who use heroin or other opiates during pregnancy have a significant risk of adverse outcomes for themselves and their babies,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “This important pilot project will allow us to improve access to treatment and support for pregnant women in two of the areas of our state hardest hit by substance abuse issues.”

Kentucky is one of 11 states to receive this grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administraton, part of an initiative to increase access to substance use disorder treatment services. It will be awarded to the Kentucky’s Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.

Kentucky hospitalizations for drug-dependent newborns increased 48 percent between 2013 and 2014, from 955 to 1,409 respectively, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. In 2000, there were only 28.

The grant did not include which counties would get the money and “Since we have not yet finalized contracts, it’s too early to say which behavioral health agencies within those regions will receive the funds,” Jill Midkiff, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in an e-mail.

The grant is meant to be used to expand medication-assisted treatment, which is “an evidence-based, comprehensive way to address the needs of individuals that combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders,” says the release.

“This federal funding will allow us to make a significant impact in the lives of Kentucky’s pregnant women who struggle with substance abuse issues, setting them on a path toward long-term recovery and healthier outcomes for not just them but their children,” Mary Reinle Begley, commissioner of DBHDID, said in the release.

Officials hope this grant will “reduce the number of Kentucky newborns who experience neonatal abstinence syndrome or neonatal opiate withdrawal syndrome by identifying opiate-addicted pregnant women and engaging them in treatment prior to delivery,” says the release.

In addition to this federal grant, Beshear recently announced funding of up to $1 million to address neonatal abstinence syndrome. This money came from an appropriation of up to $10 million contained in the heroin bill (Senate Bill 192) that passed earlier this year.

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