Three days after U.S. Senator Bill Nelson visited UF Health Jacksonville to discuss babies born addicted to opioids, three pregnant women getting treatment for opioid addiction are sharing their stories with First Coast News.
First Coast News has chosen not to reveal the identities of two of the women. The third said she didn’t mind being identified.
“My drug use got so bad to where I couldn’t go 30-45 minutes without using and putting something into my body,” the first woman said. Her addiction started with painkillers and spiraled into IV heroin, which turned out to be fentanyl.
The woman couldn't control her addiction even after she found out she was pregnant.
“Me being pregnant didn’t change anything,” she said. “I continued to keep using - if anything I started using more.”
The woman sat alongside her roommate and friend. The two are both receiving treatment at Gateway in Jacksonville and both are due to give birth in August.
This is the roommate's second attempt at getting clean. She started abusing painkillers after a car crash when she was pregnant with her first child.
“I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how to stop. And it didn’t matter that I was pregnant with her,” the woman said.
The baby girl was born addicted to opioids. The woman had to watch as her infant went through withdrawal.
“It was the hardest thing I ever went through,” she said. “In knowing that the reason she was suffering was because I put her there.”
But that wasn’t the end. The woman returned to drugs when she lost custody of her baby girl, that time using fentanyl-based heroin.
She returned to Gateway when she found out she was pregnant with her second baby.
When asked whether she worried about returning to drugs, the woman said no. She said it will always be a battle but she’s in a better place now than ever before.
“I’m happy. I can laugh. And I don’t ever want to go back to that,” she said.
Adriana Herrick, 21, shared her story in hopes of inspiring other women in her situation.
She’s currently receiving treatment through Labor of Love, an entity of Deerfield Beach-based Gracious Care Recovery Solutions. Labor of Love helps pregnant women get clean and prepares them for life after the birth.
“I’ve really changed since four months ago,” Herrick, who lives at the facility and now has a job, said.
Now seven months pregnant, Herrick was introduced to prescription painkillers by an older boyfriend when she was in her teens. She sought treatment when she found out she was pregnant.
“I did not know what to do, I didn’t have any goals in my life, any direction,” Herrick said.
All three women credit their treatment facilities with giving them hope for both themselves and their babies. They urge other pregnant women struggling with addiction to seek help.
“Don’t be scared to get judged or be scared of what people are gonna say because honestly, it’s better to ask for help and seek help than to not have help at all,” Herrick said.