Recovering addicts in Knoxville talk about using drugs while pre

Recovering addicts in Knoxville talk about using drugs while pregnant

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Three young women currently struggling with addiction told 6 News they put off seeking treatment at first because they were scared, but they decided to speak out Friday in hopes they can help other moms and babies. Three young women currently struggling with addiction told 6 News they put off seeking treatment at first because they were scared, but they decided to speak out Friday in hopes they can help other moms and babies.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - What does it take for a pregnant woman to get off drugs? A lot of you have been asking that question since a new state law went into effect, and a new mom was charged with assault this week for giving birth to a baby who tested positive for meth. 

Previous story: Monroe County arrests mother of drug-positive infant under new law

Three young women currently struggling with addiction told 6 News they put off seeking treatment at first because they were scared; either of jail, of having their children taken away, or of what other people would think. But they decided to speak out Friday in hopes they can help other moms and babies.

Baby Cash is almost a month old, but was just released from the hospital yesterday. His mother Talor Treece was addicted to pain pills for part of her pregnancy and Cash was born in withdrawal.

"He would shake. He would get sweats," Treece said. "It's really tough to know you've done something like that to your own baby."

Both mother and baby are now in recovery at Great Starts, a residential program of the Helen Ross McNabb Center that takes in pregnant women and lets them keep their babies with them after birth.

"The program we're in, it's really hard to find. If they would make more, maybe more people would come to try to get help," said Ashley Long, who is eight months pregnant with a baby girl. She was using drugs up until she started rehab three months ago.

"While I was pregnant and using you are feeling guilty, but once you're addicted it's really hard to not use," Long said.

Chelsey Tyree gave birth to a little boy three months ago and dealt with the same struggle during her pregnancy.

"I felt very guilty. I didn't want to be sick from withdrawal and at the same time I didn't want to do drugs because i knew i was pregnant and I didn't want my baby to be born addicted. I didn't want to expose him to any drugs. Every time I did my drug I would think about that," said Tyree.

These women are the lucky ones. Great Starts is the only program of its kind in East Tennessee and can only take 26 women a year.

"It's really sad to me that we have about 12 pregnant women waiting for great starts right now and I worry we're not going to get them all in before these babies are born and they might be penalized by this law," said program manager Sarah Long.

She's talking about the new state law that can punish women with up to a year in jail for giving birth to a baby born addicted to or harmed by drugs. But if they enter and complete treatment, they can offer that as a defense.

"I think there needs to be more treatment programs like Great Starts. I think if more women knew there were options available, I think that would help a whole bunch," Treece said.

Great Starts is funded mostly through federal and state grants. The program manager believes more money spent up front for early addiction intervention and treatment facilities would actually save taxpayers money in the long run by keeping more kids out of foster care and their parents out of jail.
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