Appalachian Highlands Program Helps Moms, Families Recover

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For moms with addiction, taking care of themselves isn’t their only responsibility. It’s hard for a mother who is pregnant, nursing, or simply caring for children to take the time to get the help they need to thrive themselves. Family life can be chaotic and busy, but addiction doesn’t care – it’s still dangerous. A new program run by Ballad Health, serving the Appalachian Highlands, has created a model to help mothers and children and mothers-to-be recover without splitting the family up. Women in the Appalachian Highlands will now have access to addiction treatment and health that was once much harder to get.

Appalachian Highlands Program For Families

The program Ballad Health provides focuses mostly on mothers and mothers-to-be with children. Some of these women are mothers-to-be, while others juggle work and parenting tasks in addition to trying to manage or recover from their addiction disorder.

The new program in the Appalachian Highlands may be the first of its kind. Named the Ballad Health Strong Futures program, will operate at a former hospital and provide residential and outpatient holistic care for pregnant women and mothers. Women with addiction can get the help they need to get sober. Women with mental health disorders can also receive services there. The focus is on helping the women and their children live their best life and learn to live without substances.

The center will then help them gain job skills, have family therapy, and even find stable housing. They want to provide end-to-end services for the families they are helping recover.

Fighting Poverty and Addiction

The center is not only working to help families recover. It also exists to fill a health and economic disparity that is endemic to the Appalachian Highlands region.

“We know the answer to improving health and the quality of life in our region lies outside of just addressing medical care. Addiction, poverty, and education — these are all pieces that must be addressed to meeting these critical needs for our region,” Tammy Albright, vice president, and chief executive officer of Ballad Health Behavioral Health Services, told the Greeneville Sun.

Addiction has had a profound effect on families in the Appalachian Highlands. Tennessee alone has about 8,000 children in foster care, many of them under the age of five. These kids tend to perform more slowly when picking up reading and verbal skills in school and sometimes have behavioral issues.

Beginning to Heal

“The common thread in all of this is the scourge and pain of addiction,” Levine said. “One of the things that Ballad Health said from the very beginning was that we don’t want to just be a hospital system. We want to be a health improvement organization. The way, we believe, to improve health is to focus on the root causes of poor health.”

While mothers work to heal from their addiction and other self-destructive issues, children and spouses also participate in personal therapy and other activities.

For the women in recovery, a team of people helps them, including an outpatient therapist, a care case manager, and a certified peer recovery specialist. (Child therapists are available for family and children, too.) Participants will usually attend an intensive therapy schedule during the first few fragile months of recovery.