Four months ago, Lindsey found out she was pregnant and that began to change her life. She was an opioid addict and immediately began looking for help, not only for herself but also for her unborn child.

“A lot of places say they can’t medically detox you while you’re pregnant because they can’t monitor the baby, so there’s no one to help. So, I got turned down at a lot of places,” said Lindsey.

But Lindsey didn’t let that stop her.  She decided to face her addiction alone, battling the demons head on.

“You just suffer through it honestly. There was no help for me. I did it cold turkey. I just got through it. I mean, there was no option. I had to do it for my little girl. I had to,” said Lindsey.

Other mothers, though,aren’t as successful at overcoming their addictions.  Last year, Deaconess Women’s Hospital had over 30 babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome which requires specialized neonatal intensive care. 

Lori Grimm with Deaconess Hospital said, “There are some women who don’t understand what impact that will have on their baby. I think it’s also critical to identify or notice that it’s not just the illegal drugs we’re talking about. Those can be opioids Mom has a prescription for.”

Now, thanks to a $150,000 grant, Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare plans to begin a program called “Stepping Forward.” It will be a 10-bed, transitional program for pregnant women addicted to opioids. 

“I hope this opens the doors in our community for how we treat pregnant women because pregnant women, they just haven’t been getting the same treatment as others have who have been addicted,” said Grimm.

This new facility – which is one of the only facilities of its kind in our area — will help wean pregnant mothers off the dangerous chemicals and onto Subutex – a safe medication used to battle opioid dependence.

Four-year-old Meadow is the reason Brittany Winters decided to get sober.

“I worried the entire time I was pregnant with her, like, children can have birth defects. So, the whole time I didn’t realize I was praying but I actually was praying,” said Winters.

Brittney said those prayers were answered when she stopped abusing drugs and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Brittney, like Lindsey, now urges pregnant women who are battling addiction to get the help they and their child need.

“There’s tons of women out there I know of that are still using with their babies — trying to take care of them and they can’t because they’re still addicted and still on the drugs. If there’s a place for them to go and they don’t feel ashamed, they need to. It’s important,” said Brittney. “I spoke up and I talked about it and now I have this healthy baby, so it was definitely worth it.”

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(This story was originally published on January 24, 2018)