Sep 26, 2014 10:36 PM
Heroin-addicted mothers neglecting their children
CONCORD - State officials say there's an epidemic here in New Hampshire.
The state has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the country.
It's a drug that can get many people addicted and keep them that way.
It's cheap and easy to get and in New Hampshire, It's not only taking lives, but tearing families apart.
"It was the first drug I used, so it was definitely the best high I thought I ever had in life," said Jade Haggett, a recovering addict.
Haggett, 29, of Nashua began using with her own mother when she was just 16 and now Haggett is a mother of four kids.
Each time she'd get pregnant, she'd stop using but right after her babies were born, she'd pick up where she left off.
Everything, she says, seemed to be ok.
We asked Haggett if she ever thought she was neglecting her children when she was getting high.
"I was a functioning addict," she said. "I could work. I could clean house. I could take care of the kids not realizing I was being neglectful."
We then asked if she thought she was essentially abandoning her children and if she knew where they were.
Her answer? "Nope," she said. "Yeah, I was a single mom taking care of kids but my kids weren't getting the proper care they needed.
Haggett hit rock bottom in the last two years and became homeless.
Her kids had gone from couch surfing to relative's houses and one of them even went into state custody.
"My extra time wasn't with them," Haggett said. "It was with my drug."
Keystone Hall, a substance abuse facility in Nashua, helps about three dozen women and two dozen of their kids each year.
It's a place for mothers, like Haggett, to get help for the addiction, mental health, as well as parenting issues.
Annette Escalante runs the program.
We asked Escalante how difficult it was for women to seek treatment.
"Women do not normally seek treatment because they don't want to lose their children," Escalante said. "They don't want anyone to know that they're using and they don't want the state to come in and take them. Nine out of ten times they sometimes don't have a family member to give the child to so they can go in and seek treatment."
But not every addicted parent has a family member to give their child to if and when they seek treatment and not all women realize they have a problem until they hit rock bottom.
Kasey Mcgibbon of Chester is just 20 years old and six months pregnant.
She started doing heroin at 18 and when she got pregnant, she continued to use.
"When you're using, you don't care about anything else and it's really selfish," said McGibbon. "I was excited because I wanted the baby because I thought it would help me get clean but it was like the complete opposite. It didn't help."
We asked if she was afraid she may have done to the baby because of her addiction.
"I am a little nervous but I feel that the baby is OK," she said.
Both Haggett and McGibbon believe they've been through the worst and now they're fighting to put their lives back together.
We asked them if they thought that because they are now in recovery, if they believed that their children could or would understand what they had put them through.
"They understand I have a disease and they're proud of me," Haggett said.