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May 3, 2016 3:20 PM

Pregnant heroin addicts hoping for safe place in Rochester drug treatment home

ROCHESTER - Local health professionals who work with pregnant heroin addicts, say one out of ten babies born in New Hampshire has Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS. The babies go through heroin withdrawal which can cause violent shaking, vomiting, and severe pain.

“He was born drug addicted. About the third day he started having withdrawal and was very tense and shaking,” said Abi Lizotte, a recovering heroin addict talking about her newborn son.

Twenty-three-year-old Lizotte used heroin during her entire pregnancy. Homeless and 8 months pregnant, she turned to registered nurse Kerry Norton for help when she wanted to get clean before her baby was born.

“She said she was in active addiction. She said I’ve been outside four days, I’m soaking wet and I haven’t eaten anything in four days and I think I’m dying,” Norton told NH1 News.

But Norton says she spent hours on the telephone contacting drug treatment facilities in New Hampshire, but was turned away because Lizotte was pregnant. Norton says she was told the programs didn’t accept pregnant women.

“We’ve been told, if you take government money, like Medicaid, you have to take a pregnant woman if a bed is available,” said Norton.

The obstetrician she works with says she runs up against the same roadblocks when trying to secure treatment for pregnant women.

“There are other places that should be taking in women on a priority basis, but we’ve never been able to get a pregnant woman into those programs,” Dr. Colene Arnold added.

Now Kerry and Colene are raising money to open a residential treatment home in Rochester for pregnant addicts. Calling it “Hope on Haven Hill” the treatment home will have eight beds and will provide counseling. Their newborn babies will also be able to stay with their mothers during treatment.

Lizotte, now in recovery after attending a treatment program out-of-state, was the inspiration for the home.

She’s been drug-free for 7 months and is employed. Most importantly, her baby is healthy and thriving.

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