KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Opioid abuse in our state and across the country affects so many, but some of the youngest victims are just newborn babies.
During the month of October, Tennessee observes Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, Awareness month.
The condition happens when babies come in contact with medications or illegal drugs in the womb.
This year in Tennessee, from the start of the year to August 10th, 426 babies have reportedly been born with NAS, according to the state Department of Health.
Knox County makes up 8.2 percent of those cases. But there’s a nonprofit organization here in Knoxville that’s hoping to help change that.
For the last five years now, the nonprofit organization, Susannah’s House, has made big strides to break the cycle. They’re helping moms beat their addiction while helping them care for their babies.
“Susannah’s House is a wonderful place for moms and babies who are struggling with opioid abuse to get clean and sober, and for the moms to become the mothers that their children need and for the children to receive services as well,” said Executive Director Rebekah Fetzer.
They provide a list of classes and 12 step groups. The intensive outpatient program is particularly interested in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Most of the babies they get, the executive director says, have been diagnosed with NAS.
“One of our goals is to try to keep babies from being diagnosed NAS, and so the moms can come to us when they’re pregnant, or the moms can come to us after they’ve already delivered,” Fetzer said.
Susannah’s House opened up its doors to the community Friday to learn more about what they do in their fight against opioid dependency.
“We put our heads together and started this facility for mothers and for their children, because we knew we couldn’t help the children without helping the mothers as well,” Fetzer said.
Susannah’s House says they care for about 20 children at any given time that range in age from infants to five years old. For more information, you can visit http://www.susannahshouse.org/.