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Ohio State’s STEPP helping expectant mothers with addiction

STEPP is a substance abuse and prevention program that provides prenatal care, addiction treatment, education and counseling for expectant mothers with addictions to drugs and alcohol.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In many ways, Kaylee Payne is just like any other expectant mother.

“I just wanna know what he looks like. I haven’t been able to really tell with the ultrasounds,” she said. “I just wanna see what he looks like and make sure he’s healthy.”

But, there is one big difference. Kaylee is an addict.

“I was using and I’m pregnant and I don’t want my child to go through things that it’s not supposed to,” Payne told 10TV.

The love for her unborn child is what brought her to the STEPP Clinic at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

STEPP is a substance abuse and prevention program that provides prenatal care, addiction treatment, education and counseling for expectant mothers with addictions to drugs and alcohol.

“Obviously, none of us is blind to the opioid epidemic in Ohio,” says Dr. Kara Rood, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at OSU. “Reproductive age women are a high population that suffer from opiate use disorder.”

Dr. Rood says there is a growing need for programs like STEPP.

“Having a child is a stressful situation for anyone and then to put on compounding factors of addiction and opiate use, it does make it extremely more challenging and makes this population more vulnerable for, not only opioid overdoses for the moms, but also for increased risk of SIDS and poor outcomes for babies,” Dr. Rood said.

At 32 weeks pregnant, Kaylee Payne is working hard to give her son the best chance possible. She went from doing drugs and spending time in prison… to accomplishing things she says would never have happened without the STEPP Clinic.

“I’ve kept my job. I’ve gotten my license. I have a car now,” Payne said.

“Pregnancy can be a very unique time for women to get all of the help they want because they have something more to lose at that point,” says Dr. Rood. “So I think they’re more invested and more motivated in trying to complete a program and have a healthy and safe environment for their expectant pregnancy but also themselves.”

As for Payne, she’s sticking with STEPP. She attends Narcotics Anonymous group meetings and other services provided by STEPP. She wants other young women in her situation to not be embarrassed by their addiction.

“There is help out there,” Payne said.

If you or someone you know is pregnant and addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can find more information about STEPP here.

10TV is a partner of Denial Ohio — the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance works to provide information and resources to help prevent upcoming generations from abusing opioids. More information about Denial, Ohio, can be found by clicking this link.