“Everybody deserves to be loved, and everybody deserves to feel good about themselves—no matter what that means to them.”
That mentality drives Lori Terrell, IU Health Community Health Family Vitality Initiative Clinical Manager, to do what she does.
Her program connects pregnant individuals with substance use issues to the resources they need to start on a path to recovery. And it is a completely judgment-free zone.
“There’s a lot of self-inflicted judgment and guilt, particularly with substance use during pregnancy,” says Terrell. “The most important thing to know is that no matter who you are, you need to be humble because you don’t know what may be in your path.”
And while pregnancy is a major motivational factor for making changes in a person’s life, substance use can be difficult to stop—pregnant or not.
Terrell currently supports 35 individuals and helps them connect to services, education, and programs.
“I meet with them face to face for our first meeting, and we talk about services and making those connections to home support programs,” says Terrell. “We talk about the car seat safety program and safe sleep—we want to make sure we connect them to all those services to get the resources they need to protect their child.”
After the pregnant individual is enrolled, Terrell follows up with them depending on their unique circumstances. She calls moms before and after court dates, checks in to see how everything is going with cessation efforts and is a point of support during this challenging time in their lives.
Most of her time tends to be focused on helping these moms navigate mental health resources. This includes finding therapists that will accept their insurance, helping them get on expedited waitlists and being that connection point between them and this essential support for their mental health.
Terrell says, “My family has experience with substance use with loved ones in our household, and it’s tough to navigate the healthcare world. In my private life, healthcare has been the most stigmatizing to my family members and made them feel the worst of any place they’ve ever been.”
That experience drives her to fight against the stigma people face when fighting their addictions to substances, which makes their journey even more difficult.
“Substance use is out amongst us. Mental health issues are out amongst us. We need to have conversations like it’s something that is part of our daily life,” says Terrell.
She emphasizes her detest of the phrase, “You just need to quit.”
Terrell says, “We don’t treat it with the same passion that we do other diseases. Everybody knows they need to quit, but they need tools, support, and people who believe in them to help them quit. We have to figure out how to help them find their path to treatment and recovery.”
One of the Family Vitality Initiatives’ most recent endeavors is their Moms Heal Together program. This clinic for pregnant and postpartum women was made possible through funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Participants have access to a certified nurse-midwife who supports them through general obstetric education and can prescribe Medication Assisted Treatment when needed. They also have a licensed social worker who conducts group therapy sessions specifically related to substance use in women.
Group therapy is particularly appreciated as it focuses on building peer support and helping them realize they aren’t alone.
Terrell says, “Our goal is to provide a non-judgmental place for pregnant and postpartum individuals to get help with substance use issues. We want to help them meet their goals by providing quality treatment and support.”
Learn more about the Family Vitality Initiative.