New WISH Center helps pregnant women battling addiction - KMOV.com

New WISH Center helps pregnant women battling addiction

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Kayce Whitlock getting an ultrasound at the WISH Center (Credit: KMOV) Kayce Whitlock getting an ultrasound at the WISH Center (Credit: KMOV)
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A new center in Richmond Heights is trying to help pregnant women who are trying to fight addiction.

Peak into the rooms at the WISH Center and it will look like any other doctors office with pregnant women of all backgrounds, but these moms-to-be are battling addiction.             

"I started taking pills and pills became scarce so I went to doing heroin. It was cheaper and easier to find," said Kayce Whitlock, who recalls her downhill spiral after a car accident.

Stories like that are becoming more common. Doctors at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital said in the last decade narcotic prescriptions increased fourfold, and so did the number of people addicted.

"Substance abuse and narcotic addiction is really just a really growing aspect of the fabric of society right now and treatment is available," said Dr. Jaye Shyken, the medical director of the WISH Center. "I think we are prone on a societal level to assume people are bad who use drugs and that they really aren’t normal people who have succumb to a chronic disease so it’s really time we start addressing it like a chronic disease, that we recognize that there is treatment and we normalize it."

With opioid abuse seeping in to every corner of our community, they expanded their center dedicated to do comprehensive, high-risk maternity care for women who are dependent on opioid drugs. It is the only center of its kind in the region that combines counseling, peer support, and medication assistance.

"It's given me hope. It really has. It has given me a boost of confidence too that there is hope that I can beat my addiction and there is help out there," said Whitlock.

As of Monday, she was 226 days clean and expecting her baby to be born any time.

Leaders with the WISH Center said 50-90 percent of babies who mothers were on narcotics have withdrawals, which they say is treatable. As far as effects of the medical assistance for their moms, like methadone, there are not many long term studies, but center leaders said results from the first trials do not show any developmental delays liked to that treatment.

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