Assistant Director And Director Of Clinical Operations
Denver Recovery Group
Educating women about the risks and benefits of medications for opioid use disorder is something that Lori Spurgeon takes seriously.
As assistant director and director of clinical operations at Denver Recovery Group, Lori is all about breaking down barriers that impact safety for moms who use opioids and their babies.
Many pregnant women she works with are scared to seek help due to legal concerns. An example: part of Lori’s role is helping moms understand that being prescribed methadone as a pregnant woman doesn’t necessarily mean Child Protective Services will get involved – in fact, following a prescribed treatment plan is weighed favorably in decision-making related to child welfare involvement.
“We’ve had women who have not received OB care because they were scared,” she says. “We want them to know they have options in 2023 that they may not have had in 2018.”
Educating Moms About Medication
Denver Recovery Group provides effective, evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment. They provide medication for opioid use disorder at nine locations across the Denver metro-area, including methadone, Suboxone, and Naltrexone injections.
“We really want to work with people from the harm reduction perspective and meet them where they are at.”
Lori has been with the group for seven years and has worked with many pregnant moms. She knows the fears they have around medication – especially about babies having withdrawal symptoms, which can happen with untreated opioid use disorder and/or with medications for opioid use disorder. She’s able to assure her patients that she’s seen many kids of her patients thrive.
“I have seen some extraordinary stories where moms were scared and we worked with them and got them to maintain stability,” she says. “There are so many factors and if a baby is born with withdrawal, there are many ways to get them out of withdrawal.”
Nationally and in Colorado, unintentional overdose is a leading cause of maternal mortality during pregnancy and in the first year after giving birth, so it is incredibly important for moms to have accurate information about the benefits of medication for opioid use disorder. Withdrawal symptoms are treatable, both in mothers and newborns, and the risk of withdrawal symptoms pales in comparison to the risk of untreated opioid use disorder in pregnant and parenting moms.
“We really want to promote stability no matter which medication they choose,” says Lori.
Pregnant Moms and Reducing Stigma
Identifying where a mom needs community support is another aspect of Lori’s work. She tries to understand the degree of support her clients receive from significant others, friends and/or family, and provides everyone involved with the education they need about treatment with medication for opioid use disorder.
“We all have the same goal if the mother chooses, and that's to deliver a healthy baby. A lot of times it comes down to the stigma of their community. We help them find language to communicate to their loved ones what they're choosing. And to feel confident in the decisions they're making for the health of themselves and for their baby.”
Connecting Moms to Mental Health Support
Lori works with both pregnant moms and busy moms who have kids at home. In addition to medication treatment, she’s able to connect moms to mental health services, including connecting with therapists via telehealth.
“Telehealth is huge for counseling,” she says. “Moms can stay home and do counseling with her earbuds in while cooking dinner.”
She’s also able to help them find clinicians who operate outside of normal business hours. It’s about finding timeframes that work for her. Kids are also welcome in the clinic so that moms can receive their medications in the proper time frames.
Addressing Misconceptions about Opioid Use Disorder
Lori says Denver Recovery Group is working hard in the community to decrease stigma, however they can. They go to probation meetings and talk to probation officers. They also provide education in hospital and school-based settings.
She wants providers to understand that the overall mission of their group is to support women and patients from a whole health perspective. The level of care the group provides isn’t appropriate for everyone, so they link people to the right services that meet their needs.
Above all, Lori wants people to understand that they are not a “big scary methadone clinic.”
“We are not a pill farm,” Lori says. “We really do care about our patients.”
Learn more about the services provided by Denver Recovery Group at www.denverrecoverygroup.com/
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