New program helps pregnant women battling opioid addiction

CANTON, OH (WOIO) - A new program at CommQuest, which provides counseling, support and recovery services for people addicted to opioids, is working to help pregnant women cope with opioid addiction.

It's called "Mom and Me," and it works to give women medication-assisted therapies that allow them to get clean, have healthy babies, and raise their families.

CommQuest has been doing this kind of work for several years, but a recent $200,000 grant allowed them to expand.

There are eight women in the program right now, and about 20 have signed up since last November.

Haley McKinney is one of them. She gave birth to her son, Carsyn, six months ago. She said it was tough to pick up the phone and admit she needed help.

"It took a lot of guts just for us to walk in here to begin with, or call up, because no mom wants to say, hey, I'm pregnant and I'm addicted to drugs. No mom wants to admit that," said McKinney.

She did make the call, though, one that got her into Deliverance House in Canton, and into the Mom and Me program. She received daily therapy, prenatal care, and medication to ease withdrawal symptoms, which can be fatal to developing babies.

"Use itself is difficult on the fetus," said Nurse Administrative Manager Robin Dockus. "They're not mature, they're developing their systems are developing, their liver is very immature."

Many of the pregnant women do receive methadone and suboxone, which can lead to newborns with other withdrawal symptoms. Carsyn was one of those. He spent several weeks in the hospital, but recovered, and is now a happy, healthy six-month-old.

"I kinda came to a point where I realized that my child's life was more important than anything," said his mom, Haley McKinney.

CommQuest offers services to a large segment of the population, but leaders of the Mom and Me program say they fill a void in the health care community, helping mothers who often have no other place to turn.

"I talked to women at any stage of their pregnancy and encourage her to come in, that there is hope, that there is hope here," said Dockus.

The women get postpartum treatment, too, including continued therapy and support.

"It's very rewarding to see the baby, to see her coming in that first appointment after delivery, and see a very healthy mom and a healthy baby," said Director of Opiate Treatment Service at CommQuest Wendy Hunter.

The program worked for Haley McKinney.

She's stayed clean, rented her own apartment, enrolled in classes, and gotten married. She wants to become a welder, which will give her an income to support Carsyn.

She also wants her success to serve as inspiration for pregnant women at the beginning of a journey she's already taken.

"I feel so good about what I did," said McKinney. "I know that I made the right decision, and today I wouldn't trade my life for anything."

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