Mothers of drug-addicted babies seek treatment

By: Laura Beranek Email
By: Laura Beranek Email

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) A Tennessee law will soon criminalize women who use drugs while pregnant.

Beginning July 1st, mothers can be criminally charged for harm done to their infants.

Counselors at The Independence House in Corbin say if a similar law were to pass in Kentucky, it would only harm mothers and their children.

One woman at the treatment center for substance abuse says her five children have been born addicted to drugs.

Her daughter is due any day.

"They would claw their eyes out, they would scream," said Selisa McKinney about her kids, "You couldn't comfort them. They hurt. And they felt just like I felt."

McKinney has been at The Independence House since early in her pregnancy.

She is just one of many women who have been treated at the facility.

"With this one, I haven't missed one doctors appointment," said McKinney, "I take my vitamins every night. I take my heartburn medication every night. Just things that I wouldn't normally do without help, I'm doing now. So this baby is going to be born healthy."

Most patients at The Independence House are seeking treatment because of court orders.

Counselors say the believe more mothers would try and get help if they didn't feel stigmatized or embarrassed.

They also say if a similar law passed in Kentucky, more pregnant women struggling with addiction would be scared to seek treatment in fear of getting punished.

"We need more treatment centers," said Independence House Counselor Stephanie Hoskins, "Putting more funding into treatment, because there are not may treatment centers in the state."

McKinney says she feels as if her daughters birth will be a new beginning.

"You may think that drug addiction is all you know, but there is another way," said said, "And it's took me 21 years to find it. But I found it...And I'm thankful."

The Independence House is operated through Cumberland River Comprehensive Behavioral Health.

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