Horizons Program at UNC Chapel Hill

Dr. John Thorp (center) with UNC Horizons child development center staff. Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.
Dr. John Thorp (center) with UNC Horizons child development center staff. Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Dr. John Thorp had a vision. After attending East Carolina University medical school and completing his residency at UNC-Chapel Hill, Thorp developed a particular interest in the complex issues surrounding substance abuse disorder in pregnant and parenting women. He knew that a gender-specific treatment model that tackled the root causes of addiction, rooted in research and science, was a need in the Triangle area. So in 1994, Thorp led the charge to open the Horizons program in conjunction with UNC-Chapel Hill. The drug and alcohol epidemic of the late 1980s had left its mark in North Carolina, and Thorp found that there was no shortage of patients.

The years passed and the program only grew in strength and size. Today, UNC Horizons employs 80, many of who have graduated from the program, and works with over 250 clients a year.

In 2013, Dr. Hendrée Jones came to Horizons as executive director. Jones’ expertise in behavioral and pharmacologic treatment for women facing substance abuse disorder is internationally recognized. She serves as a consultant for the United Nations and World Health Organization, and she has received a Betty Ford Award from the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse. Thorp remains actively involved in Horizons, and their combined expertise (Thorp pioneered medication-assisted treatment for opiate use during pregnancy) has made Horizons a leader in substance abuse treatment.

The Approach

UNC Horizons provides ‘whole person treatment’ – tackling the underlying trauma, encouraging a strong mother-child bond, and helping their clients create a path to future success. To do this, Horizons focuses their service in three main treatment programs – perinatal, residential, and outpatient.

UNC Horizons aims to treat the whole family and address root causes of addiction. Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.
UNC Horizons aims to treat the whole family and address root causes of addiction. Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Perinatal

Women who come to the program expecting, are given a customized treatment plan and receive full care from UNC, including labor and delivery. In 2017, Horizons’ clients delivered 64 babies who averaged 6.6 lbs and an average 38.6 weeks gestational age, meeting national standards for healthy fetal development despite the challenges they faced.

Residential

In the residential program, up to 28 families at a time are provided housing and childcare while mothers engage in full-day treatment with other outpatient clients at the Carrboro, NC treatment center. Children of addicted mothers receive their own special services and can participate in Horizons’ five-star early learning development daycare program.

Outpatient

Both residential program and outpatient clients engage in treatment on a scheduled, structured basis. Locations in Carrboro and Raleigh serve women daily. Treatment encompasses the development of a relapse prevention plan, AA/NA meetings, counseling, small group work, employment or educational advancement services, parenting and budgeting training, family counseling, and case-management.

From start to finish, Horizons ensures that women understand their disorder, receive proper treatment, and have the tools to avoid relapse and keep their families intact in the future.

Pope Foundation Commitment

Dr. Hendrée Jones joined UNC Horizons as Executive Director in 2013 and is an international leader in the treatment of women with substance abuse disorder. Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.
Dr. Hendrée Jones joined UNC Horizons as Executive Director in 2013 and is an international leader in the treatment of women with substance abuse disorder. Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.

The John William Pope Foundation first made a general operating support grant to UNC Horizons in 2014. Impressed with the variety of services, their trauma-informed approach, and a recent expansion to a new facility in downtown Carrboro, the Pope Foundation saw another opportunity to partner with Horizons.

As a part of a $10 million commitment from the Pope Foundation to UNC-Chapel Hill, announced on April 23, 2018, $250,000 was marked for UNC Horizons. As experts in women’s substance abuse disorders, UNC Horizons knows their programs save the state valuable time and money. Untreated substance abuse frequently results in incarceration, the breakdown of the family, increased burden on social services, and poor health outcomes for mothers and children. UNC Horizons will use the $250,000 grant to supplement a three-year longitudinal study that will track program effectiveness on many different measures.

“This generous gift will provide the needed systematic outcome and cost effectiveness data to unlock the potential for the Horizons model to help women and children in North Carolina and across the country,” said Jones in a press release about the grant.

North Carolina is facing increased pressure to adequately address the opioid crisis and the Pope Foundation fully believes public support alone will never be the answer.

 

To learn more about the Pope Foundation’s commitment to Carolina, read our press release

To learn more about UNC Horizons, including its groundbreaking leadership and programs, visit their website.