Weekly INBrief: March 3, 2021

Monday Mar 1st, 2021

Dare to Care - Amanda Gorman United Way Message

Celebrating the Women Who Work as Community School Directors

During Women’s History, United Way celebrates the work of our 10 Community School Directors throughout Erie County.  Each one is a fierce advocate for students and families as she continues to creatively and passionately address the unique challenges that have created unprecedented hardships for so many in our community. THANK YOU for all the incredible work you do every day! You can read all about them over on our Meet the Directors page.

Helping Women Overcome Opioid/Substance Use Disorders and Stigma of Addiction

United Way of Erie County is committed to helping every child succeed starting from birth.  That’s why UW supports the Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot Women’s Recovery Center which is a treatment program for women with substance use disorders who are pregnant, who have children, or who are of child-bearing age.  Specifically, this outpatient program addresses:  

  • Providing medication to prevent withdrawal including treatment during pregnancy.  
  • Helping reduce cravings from substance use disorders.  
  • Decreasing fetal exposure to opioids and other illicit substances.
  • Engaging the mother as a leader in her recovery.  

Preventing or decreasing fetal exposure to illicit substances also means reducing the chances of admission to the NICU which in turn means a healthier start in life. According to Mandy Fauble, PhD, LCSW,  Director of Clinical Care Services:

  • UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Safe Harbor, on average, one baby’s stay in the NICU costs about $37,500.  She shared that since 2018, Magee-Women's, UPMC Hamot reported that clients of the Women’s Recover Center had 27 births.  With efforts from the WRC program, of those 27 births, 21 newborns went home without being admitted to the NICU. That is a potential cost savings of approximately $750,000.   
  • Currently, 52% of WRC women are employed and 87% have stable housing.  Creating family stability is an indicator for helping to prevent poverty which in turn helps children succeed.   For more information about pregnancy and opioids, please visit the read more: Center for Disease Control 
  • Recovery Is Beautiful NW PA offers programming, information and training opportunities that are free and open to the public. Learn more at: Training opportunities — #RecoveryIsNWPA  

One Women's Journey to Recovery

One mother’s journey that led her to the Women’s Recovery Center started innocently in 2015 when she first used Kratom for pain associated with endometriosis.  Through a search on the internet, she discovered this legal “supplement” which is manufactured in southeast Asia and is available over the counter and found at local gas stations, vape shops or online.   It’s touted as a pain killer, anti-anxiety medication and alternative to opioids.  Several states have banned Kratom because it is highly addictive.    People who use kratom regularly and then stop taking it often experience decreased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, severe muscle pain and spasms, watery eyes, anxiety, anger, and fever.  

While she had stopped using after a few months the first time, the mother of five—with an 8 year old, twin 6 year olds, a 4 and 3 year old--started Kratom again in 2019 to deal with stress particularly the stress associated with the trauma of domestic violence.   

“My children were working remotely, and they were ripping through things like chargers and they needed more things and I’m doing it on my own--but they never noticed a change in me.  Except with withdrawals maybe being a little tired, but I never stopped being a mom.  I would never ever put that on them.”  

In December 2020 she sought treatment at the Women’s Recovery Center, and she has been successful in her journey to be drug-free.    

When asked “what would be your message be to others considering Kratom” she said “I know exactly what I would say.”  

“First they should go on Reddit and see what people are saying.  There is a whole section on what these people are going through. It's just like an opioid. It’s expensive and expensive to keep up with it. Once you keep taking it, you build up an intolerance to it. You get sick from taking it and you throw up and throw up. You will build up decay on your teeth and you will lose your teeth because you’ve thrown up so much.    And most likely because you have spent so much money you will be on Medicaid.  Medicaid is not going to cover dental implants.  You will just be broke and  toothless and having withdrawals because you can’t keep up with it.  It’s over the counter but it’s illegal where it’s produced so that tells you something.”  

Her hope is that Kratom is banned in Pennsylvania and throughout the country.  

She explained that she is now feeling great and doesn’t crave Kratom and feels liberated from it thanks to the care she received from the WCR.   She said,  Woman’s Recovery treated me not in a typical manner.  I was not treated as an addict, they know my name and I am not a number. They explain things in a way that I can understand. And don’t make me feel bad or embarrassed like other programs might.  You are cared for in a private one on one setting with people who care. Woman’s Recovery helps me feel proud of myself instead of feeling ashamed.  I like the whole treatment team consisting of a Doctor , case manager, therapist, and a nursing staff member.  They have been amazing. I was scared to go on medication but the team has been so understanding and straightforward- -the plan for my recovery has been on my time.”