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The Horizons Program at the UNC School of Medicine is a substance use disorder treatment program for pregnant and/or parenting women and their children, including those whose lives have been touched by abuse and violence.


Dr. John M. Thorp, Jr., a longtime faculty member in the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, started Horizons in 1993 in response to the epidemic of drug and alcohol use in the late 1980s. With so many families affected by addiction, there was a great need in North Carolina for a treatment and recovery program for pregnant and mothering women – one that helped to resolve the issues of drug use that are specific to women and their families, and one that kept those families together.

What began with a handful of patients in one doctor’s clinic is now a robust program with the full support of one of the top research universities in the country and its innovative health care system. Now, 250 women are touched each year – more than 5,000 since the program started – by Horizons’ prenatal care and addiction treatment, trauma-informed recovery practices, inpatient and outpatient treatment, career counseling, housing assistance, case management, family therapy and a 5-star daycare for our clients’ children. The research conducted at Horizons by Dr. Hendrée Jones, Ph.D. is used around the world as a model for treating women and children with substance use disorders. Many UNC students in psychiatry, social work and medicine now rotate through Horizons as part of their education.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide world class empowering and transformative interdisciplinary care to women and their children affected by substance use disorders. We realize this mission by:

Offering a continuum of services and evidence-based, women centered, attachment and trauma-responsive programing to inspire women and their children to thrive
Generating and applying scientific knowledge to improve women’s and children’s lives
Training local and international scholars and care providers to implement our cutting-edge model of life changing care

Our Staff

Horizons employs approximately 70 people to help meet the needs of our clients and their children. Our staff members include social workers, substance abuse counselors, a family nurse practitioner, psychiatrists, a psychologist, child therapists, peer support specialists, case managers, early childhood educators, resident advisors, and administrative personnel.

thorp_mug.jpgDr. John M. Thorp, Jr.

Founder and Medical Director of UNC Horizons

Dr. John Thorp is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, with a sub-specialty certificate in maternal-fetal medicine. He is the Hugh McAllister Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vice Chair for Research and Division Director of the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is the UNC principal investigator in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network at NIH, and participated in the groundbreaking discoveries that progestins could prevent preterm birth and magnesium is neuro protective in infants delivered early.

“I believe that addiction is a family disease. Whether it’s genetics or environment – it’s probably a complex mixture of both – we can break that intergenerational cycle of addiction and violence. Maybe those kids will never have to experience it”


Dr. Hendrée Jones

Executive Director of UNC Horizons

Dr. Hendrée Jones became the Executive Director of UNC Horizons in 2013, and is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology. She is an internationally recognized expert in the development and examination of both behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for pregnant women and their children in risky life situations. Dr. Jones has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles, multiple books and book chapters and is a consultant for the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Dr. Jones’ research on improving the lives of children, women and families takes her to Afghanistan, the Southern Cone, the Republic of Georgia, South Africa, as well as all over the United States.

“Women who are using drugs and find out they are pregnant – many of them want to stop, but find the addiction is overpowering and don’t have the ability to stop on their own. And, so, they need to seek help, and that’s where Horizons comes in. We provide the help they need to stop that cycle of addiction.”

The UNC Horizons Program receives federal and state substance abuse treatment funds through SAMHSA and the NC Division of Substance Abuse Services, and service reimbursements.