LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Using drugs or drinking alcohol while pregnant can be dangerous for both the mother and baby. However, for some women, pregnancy isn't enough to quit.
However, there is hope and resources for pregnant women struggling with substance abuse.
“I started using probably when I was about 18 or 19. After high school,” Grayson Moore said.
It started as peer pressure for now 35-year-old Grayson Moore. At 20 years old, her life changed.
“I found out I was pregnant and I continued using,” Moore said.
Moore was addicted to meth and alcohol during her pregnancy. Her son, now 14, was born healthy. However, she continued to use drugs and drink and eventually handed custody over to her parents.
“For most people who aren't using it's ‘I'm a mom so I'm going to be a mom.’ But for me, it was a decision. I didn't know what I wanted to do and that's really sad,” Moore said.
Over the next several years, Moore had two more children. She was arrested and in and out of rehab as she struggled to overcome her addiction.
“I willingly gave all my kids to my parents. It was very hard, but I also knew that I was going to be stuck in it,” Moore said.
There aren't many places in Arkansas that will treat pregnant women with a substance abuse disorder. However, a program at UAMS in Little Rock offers just that.
“To date, over the past two and half years we have treated almost 200 women within the clinic,” Psychiatry specialist at UAMS, Dr. Jessica Coker said.
Psychiatry specialist Dr. Jessica Coker, runs the Women’s Mental Health program at UAMS. It’s the only outpatient clinic of its kind in the state.
“In order to qualify you need to be pregnant or within 3 months postpartum and you have to be abusing substances,” Coker said. “It does not have to be opiates. We take care of women who are abusing meth, marijuana and cocaine, any of those things.”
According to Coker, pregnant women from all over the state come to Little Rock to attend the once a week program. She said the women take opioids to treat their addiction, participate in individual or group therapy, attend parenting classes and undergo mandatory drug screenings.
“I find it to be a really gratifying experience that I get to help these women who are coming forward and saying I have a problem and I want the help because I do want better for my children than what I had,” Coker said.
That is exactly what Moore is focusing on today. She is eight months pregnant and nearly a year and a half into her recovery. Moore said she is working to create a better life for her and her family.
“I don't look at my past as a mess up. I look at it as a learning experience and I hope my kids can look at it and walk down a different path,” Moore said.
Coker said UAMS is working with obstetricians to refer women to the program.
She said they are encouraging obstetricians to ask questions of their patients and educate them on the resources available in the state.
For more information on the program visit this website.