Expectant mothers with addictions to drugs or alcohol come to the Substance Abuse, Treatment, Education and Prevention Program (STEPP) for treatment. Part of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Maternal Fetal Medicine practice, this weekly clinic is held every Wednesday morning and provides personalized, high-risk obstetric care, treatment and counseling.

Most women in STEPP have opiate addictions and participate in a treatment program (either inpatient or outpatient aligned with Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center or through outside programs) as they work toward recovery. Additionally, our clinic cares for expectant mothers with infectious diseases, which are frequently, but not always, associated with illicit drug use.

Our Services

Controlled Medication

If you are dependent on opiates, including heroin, morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, methadone and others, we can prescribe Suboxone®. This medication may help you have less severe withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for you to taper off as part of recovery. If you are prescribed this medication, you must participate in weekly substance abuse group-counseling therapy and see your prescribing physician weekly.


If your care includes prescription-based medication stabilization, you are required to participate in weekly, hour-long group counseling sessions guided by a certified substance abuse counselor. Topics include issues specific to preparing for the birth of your baby and working toward recovery, including empowerment, self-esteem and relationships.

High-Risk Obstetrics

You’ll receive weekly intensive prenatal care, including a urine drug screen, obstetric exam, and discussions about medications, life stressors and other concerns. If needed, we’ll refer you to counselors and social workers.


We’ll monitor your baby’s progress with high-frequency sound waves (no radiation), and state-of-the-art technologies. We’ll evaluate baby’s size, position and development as part of diagnosing developmental abnormalities.

Infectious Diseases

Because Hepatitis C and HIV are the two of the most common infectious diseases related to drug addiction, we collaborate with a team of Ohio State’s infectious disease physicians to coordinate any special care you may need during pregnancy. We also participate in NIH-funded research in conjunction with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to better understand Hepatitis C and pregnancy.

Newborn Care Planning

Together with neonatologists from Nationwide Children's Hospital NICU at Ohio State, we coordinate care to meet your baby’s special needs. Your baby is cared for during his or her own period of withdrawal, and receives treatment for any complications that may arise.

Why Choose Ohio State?

Managed by a maternal fetal medicine specialist in our high-risk obstetrics practice, the STEPP clinic program’s approach is to stabilize your drug use by replacing illicit drugs with managed, prescribed medications.

This treatment, combined with an emphasis on compassionate, nonjudgmental care, is designed to see you safely through pregnancy, delivery and follow up, including recommendations for continued rehabilitation or maintenance medication programs.

Because babies whose mothers abuse drugs and alcohol during pregnancy have higher risk factors for abnormalities, malformations, low birth weight and other complications, we place a special emphasis on providing comprehensive, thorough monitoring of moms and babies.

In close collaboration with an Ohio State pharmacist, and through personal interviews and observation, we are able to better manage the selection of your medications and dosage to help minimize acute phases of withdrawal.

In addition, we coordinate with the neonatologists at Nationwide Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center to prepare for your baby’s care immediately after delivery. These specialists are experienced in providing compassionate care to babies in withdrawal, as well as addressing any special needs your baby may have.

Out Patients

Women who come to us voluntarily join the STEPP clinic, which typically cares for 30 expectant mothers at a time. Although we accept patients at any point in a pregnancy, most seek treatment before 24 weeks.

For those recovering from narcotic pain medication or opiate addiction, including heroin, morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, Dilaudid or methadone, our course of treatment includes medication stabilization as a component of care. This involves prescribing a controlled medication as a substitute for illicit drugs (to help patients avoid an acute withdrawal phase during pregnancy), and closely monitoring use of the medication. This approach reduces some of the risks that acute withdrawal may pose to baby.

Patients with alcohol or amphetamine addictions are encouraged to participate in 12-step programs for support as they abstain during their pregnancy.

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