UNC Horizons is an internationally-recognized program that treats women who are pregnant, and women who are parents for substance use disorders.

The program was formed as an extension of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, but it now has a Carrboro location all of its own.

“The children we care for will finally have the rooms and playground to match all the wonderful things that we see happen in their lives,” said Dr. John M. Thorp Jr. “Learners and investigators from across campus will come here and realize this highly prevalent and lethal disease is equally worthy of their attention.”

Thorp is a professor at UNC and is also the founder of UNC Horizons. He spoke at the location’s grand opening in Carrboro Wednesday and said the program is important because it focuses on the support that the women and children need.

“This is not a disease like cancer or pre-term birth that needs the discovery of a miracle cure to see substantive gains occur, but progress is only a matter of will and resolve,” he said. “This, at its core, is a disease of despair. Rejoice for today, and then resolve to join us in our struggle against despair.”

Governor Roy Cooper also spoke at the event. He said it’s important to recognize substance use disorder as a real issue in the state.

“I want a North Carolina population that’s better educated, that’s healthier and more prosperous,” he said. “We know that substance abuse and addiction can do as much as anything to destroy those three goals in people’s lives.”

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said this program provides the tools to help achieve those goals.

“It’s a model for how you take physical issues of substance abuse, and you seek to heal histories and economic struggles and treat that together,” she said. “That’s part of that vision, passion, heart and impact.”

The center’s new location in Shelton Station will house its different treatments: prenatal care, psychiatric care, child-care, trauma-informed recovery practices and other assistance and treatment.

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said it’s in the center’s nature and practices to have all the services in one place.

“You look around the country and you see programs,” he said. “All of these programs separate individuals from their families. This one is focused on keeping a family together.”

Lucy Brown is a graduate of the program and is now employed by UNC Horizons. She said the treatment and care she received is unique.

“Twenty-seven days into recovery I was given three things: compassion, hope and a beautiful baby girl to raise all on my own,” she said. “The staff at UNC Horizons knew what I was capable of before I could even imagine it.”

Photo via Blake Hodge