One of the evils of drug addiction is that more and more babies are being born dependent on the drugs their mothers took during pregnancy.
Those infants can also face sickening withdrawal symptoms.
Western Mass News Reporter Ray Hershel dug deeper into the process moms have to go through when they're pregnant and hooked on drugs.
As more and more women fall victim to prescription painkillers and heroin addiction, we must not forget the most helpless among us, the babies born to addicted mothers.
“I became a heroin addict and it kept getting worse and worse,” said Julie
Today, Julie is the mother of a beautiful 9-month old baby girl Giselle.
The road to being pregnant and addicted to heroin was not easy, but thanks to Julie's parents who got her help, and the Center for Human Development, Julie has a bright future.
She received methadone treatment while pregnant to help her withdraw from heroin.
"She was born addicted. I was on methadone then and it took her three and a half weeks to come down from it.”
The Center for Human Development said methadone treatment is preferable to having the mom stay hooked on heroin.
"If they're addicted to heroin, then they use methadone to continue treatment so that babies are not affected from abruptly stopping the heroin use,” said Kereen Rennis.
Kereen Rennis is the clinical director for the Two Rivers Recovery Center for women.
And while medical treatment is available to help, there is no substitute for mother-baby bonding.
“They're their best medicine for their baby. They're the best treatment for them.
The Two Rivers Recovery Home contains 25 beds for women and their infants up to a year old.
24-hour on site staffing allows the best treatment for the women there.
"Women are coming into treatment with the hopes of re-unifying or having their children with them to receive support to enable them to refrain from use of illicit substances,” said Katherine Cook.
Katherine Cook, the Vice President for Adult Mental Health and Substance Use Services at the Center for Human Development said that through counselling and support, the goal is for the women to live independently and raise their children in a healthy environment.
"We're looking at the individual as a whole person and trying to figure out not only what’s happening with them physically, but also psychologically and spiritually.”
She adds that it's so important to remove the stigma of addiction and therefore treat it as a disease and not a choice.
There are many success stories at CHD.
Julie is just one example of the lives turned around.
She has some advice for other women who are pregnant and addicted to opioids.
"The number one thing is to get off the street and get on methadone. Without that you have no chance.”
And because of the chance she was given by the Center for Human Development, Julie looks to the future with optimism and hope for herself and Giselle.
“It's like the best possible outcome. They taught me a lot. I learned to live sober and I also learned how to be a mother, and both those things came through CHD.”
In an earlier report, we took you to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at Baystate Medical Center where about 10 percent of their babies are born drug dependent because of their mother’s addiction.
I've talked to both addicted moms and medical experts for our reports, and one common theme stood out.
The moms should realize there is help and services in the community to treat them and their babies.
And there is hope for addicted moms no matter how dark the future can look at times.
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