Maria, whose identity is protected, said she brought her son into the world dependent to opiates.
“I felt like I was two inches tall, like I couldn’t believe that I did that to him,” Maria said.
She’s been using prescribed opiates since she was 16 years-old to treat her kidney disease. When she got pregnant, she said doctors gave her pain pills because she needed to have surgery.
However, when doctors stopped prescribing her these pills, she said she felt the worst pain imaginable.
“It’s like the flu times a million. You feel like you’re literally going to die,” Maria said.
After that she said “just to feel normal” she started using opiates that were not prescribed, and she knows others who she said took it a step further.
“Doctors gave the baby methadone and told her to give the baby methadone, and she took it for herself and the baby ended up passing away,” Maria said.
Doctors at Winchester Medical Center said they treat about three to five babies for opiate dependencies every day and those children might need extra help by the time they get to school.
Maria’s son was diagnosed with Autism, and he is now in the third grade.
“If a child isn’t reading proficiently by the third grade, they’re four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma,” Stacie Rohn with the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle said.
Maria said her son is up to grade level in all of his subjects.
“He’s very smart, but I’ve told him his mind doesn’t comprehend things the same as a normal person,” Maria said.
Those who are born dependent to opiates typically need a special education teacher by their side, and right now, schools in Berkeley County might not have the funding to handle this.
“There are long term consequences with funding, as far as always supporting them with an SSI,” Elaine Mauk with Berkeley County Council said.
As for Maria, she said she is now more than one year clean.
“If you just do your digging, you will find that there is help,” Maria said.
She said her recovery is thanks largely in part to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.