Pregnant and addicted Pt. 2: Inside the LES center giving struggling moms new hope

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – Su Casa, part of the Lower Eastside Service Center, is a private, not for profit operating, in part, through a contract with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.  In recent years, the center even began accepting Medicaid.

The center’s Pregnant Women and Infant Center operates out of a separate wing from its general population.  Strict schedules, complete with regular counseling sessions, doctor visits, and pre-natal monitoring are all mandatory.  Local hospitals, Gouverneur, Bellevue and Beth Israel all collaborate with the care that takes place at Su Casa.  Each mother has her own private room stocked with practically everything she needs for her baby and for some mothers, whose children are in foster care while they complete their treatments, their crib is the only thing missing.

“They’re individuals in recovery making a go of it and so that’s 90 percent of what’s the same.  The fact they have baby issues is the other 10 percent,” said Larry Taub, Su Casa’s Divisional Director of Residential Services.

While the program provides months of prenatal and counseling services for pregnant women addicted to heroin, it also guides the women after their child is born.  All of it is done as  and guiding them even after their child is born..  All of it is done as the mother is weaning off of heroin and not cold turkey, but while taking daily doses of methadone, an opiate itself.


“You have to give enough methadone to make sure the person is comfortable and not abusing drugs and not so much that they’re over sedated,” said Taub.

Su Casa

Doses vary for every patient and depends on how deep their addiction lies.  If you’re wondering of the risks to an unborn child, yes, there are some but it is the only option, according to medical experts and the best case scenario for mother and child, especially if you consider the alternative.

“If a woman is on methadone is the baby addicted as well? And the answer is yes.  But from a harm reduction perspective it actually turns out that the babies are detoxed very gradually at a hospital,” explained Taub.

Denise Swanburg and her daughter are just one example of the many success stories out of Su Casa.  Where life had once hit rock bottom, today Swanburg spends her days clean and off heroin and methadone for about 6 years.  She lives on her own and takes care of her most treasured possession, her daughter Sophia. And if there’s any question as to whether Sophia is anything but a healthy 5 year old, Swanburg will point out immediately that Sophia is thriving at school, she’s active and full of energy.

For Taub and others who commit their lives to Su Casa and its Pregnant Women and Infants Program, Sophia like dozens of others who have come out of its care, is living proof there is not only hope for these women, but a very real shot at breaking the cycle of addiction for good.

For more information, please visit LESC’s link


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