When Melissa was just 14, she began taking Percocet to help her cope with her anxiety and depression, and she managed for a while, but when she hit her early 20s, she moved on to heroin, reports Stephanie Dubick, and that’s when she lost control.
“When it was just [Percocet], my life was manageable,” Melissa, now 27, told Broadly, “It was just partying for me. But when it turned to heroin, my life basically ended. Everything became about getting high.”
As the opioid epidemic rages in more and more American towns and cities, pregnant women with addiction issues are being hit hardest, as draconian drugs force them to choose between health care and avoiding arrest. What’s more, hospitals and helplines are ill equipped to deal with pregnant women addicted to drugs, particularly opioids.
They are treated “as though addiction is a personal failing rather than a public health issue,” notes Dubick.
There are so few programs that treat pregnant women with addiction, and drug addiction in the US has been criminalized so thoroughly and for so long that pregnant women who use are often arrested and subjected to harsh punishments rather than treated.