States of Addiction: Most Vulnerable Victims - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

States of Addiction: Most Vulnerable Victims

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) - Tonight we continue our reports into the states of addiction with a look at the most vulnerable victims of the raging epidemic in the tri-state region. I’ll introduce you to a new mom from Milton, West Virginia who survived addiction but wasn’t prepared to see her baby have to do the same. 

Baby Kyrie was born on December 13, 2016.

“He was actually born on my birthday,” said Rachel Kinder. “It was definitely the best birthday present I've ever gotten.”

His mother, Rachel Kinder, is a recovering addict. She had been in a methadone treatment program for about a year when she found out she was pregnant with her second son. While methadone is approved by the FDA to treat addiction, and Rachel’s doctor advised she stay on it, she knew the dangers it posed for newborns. 

“I was scared,” exclaimed Kinder. “I looked up videos and saw babies of how they would be shaking it was really sad I was very afraid.”

At just three days old, her son started having tremors, one of the signs of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Meaning, he was going through withdrawal from the methadone.

At six days old, he was transferred from Cabell Huntington Hospital’s Neonatal Therapeutic Unit to a facility the unit works closely with called Lily’s Place.

“These babies do go through a lot of sensory issues,” stated Rebecca Crowder, Executive Director at Lily’s Place. “They have medical issues, and so they require medical care or therapeutic care. Therapeutic handling techniques we put the parents through involves a lot of training so they are fully prepared to care for their children once they take them home.”

Lily’s Place is on the cutting edge of treatment for N.A.S. babies. It’s the first of its kind in the U.S. They currently have 14 nurseries and in almost three year, have already treated close to 200 babies.

“The epidemic of addiction is not a West Virginia problem, it's a national problem,” expressed Kinder. “We tend to get a lot more of the attention right now. And, I think one of those reasons especially when it comes to NAS births, is because Cabell Huntington Hospital does mandatory testing. So, they're catching it where across the country other places don't do that.”

This leaves Rebecca and her staff to wonder how many babies and parents aren’t getting the treatment they desperately need.

“One of the biggest issues in our state and our local area you will see is generational addiction,” stated Crowder. “I feel like when the babies come here, we are also able to capture the parents. And with that, if we could have the parents get on the path to recovery, we have broken that cycle of generational addiction because this baby won't go down that road as well.”

“Having them be there for me and the baby made me want to be there with him all the time,” Kinder expressed. “I want to do better for my baby and they were great.”

Kyrie was slowly weaned off of the methadone. His parents were able to be with him for the treatment during visiting hours.

 “What was the most challenging part of this road to recovery for you,” Abney asked? 

“The hardest part was not being able to take him straight home,” answered Kinder. “And, seeing them give him the methadone that hurt me, I just, I felt very guilty and ashamed for a long time.”

After several weeks, Kyrie was able to go home with his parents and big brother. This is something his mother appreciates now more than ever.

“I cleaned up before I lost my kids,” stated Kinder. “I could've lost my children, I could've lost everything!”

And seeing healthy families leave together is one of the biggest rewards for the staff at Lily’s Place.

“We always say, you have to love them through it” concluded Crowder. “I think that's essential. They have to know you care about them and that you are supporting them and you truly want them to succeed.”

“Jennifer, what about once families do leave Lily’s Place, does the support and treatment continue,” asked Patrick Simon.

“They have a follow up clinic every month with pediatric physical therapists and social workers,” answered Abney. “And, Rebecca says there is no end to that is families need them.

Abney added, “their first baby through the door still comes in for follow ups And, Rachel still works with a non-medicated outpatient treatment program getting drug screens and working with social workers with parenting and life skills classes.

“Is Lily’s Place a non-profit,” Simon asked.

“Rebecca tells me they are able to bill managed care companies but also rely on grant writing and fundraising,” added Abney. “If you would like to help, you can look of this story on our website Tristateupdate.com under special reports and we will link you to their site.”

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