Opioid addiction takes toll on pregnant women

In Fairfax County, more pregnant women are reportedly battling heroin and opioid addiction. They are apparently not getting help because they are afraid. The revelation comes as opioid use skyrockets across the country.

The fear for many pregnant women fighting substance abuse disorders is being viewed as a bad mother and ultimately that getting help will result in their children removed from their care.

The statistics are staggering and Fairfax County is no exception. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says between 1999 and 2015, there was a nearly a 500-percent increase in prescription overdose deaths among women compared to a 218-percent increase among men.

Heroin deaths among women reportedly increased twice as quickly compared to men, but one group is hoping to change that.

"We absolutely want to offer pregnant women non-judgemental services to help them have a safe pregnancy and a safe birth," says Lauren Krause Nickum, a behavioral health supervisor at the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.

She says there is no judgment and a no questions asked policy for pregnant women seeking help with opioid abuse.

Pregnant women are considered a priority population and the community services board in Fairfax will bump them to the top of the list for assessments, treatment and medications.

In fact, we are told if a pregnant woman addicted to heroin or opioid contacts the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, they can get help within 48 hours.

"I think that women are afraid of judgment, that they feel that there are services that cannot help them, that maybe they don't know that we offer services for women who are currently using substances," says Krause Nickum. "There is a big stigma against women who are pregnant and using drugs and we want to remove that and we want to remove that stigma and say that we are here to help you anyway."

Fairfax County also offers opioid overdose reversal training at several locations across the county. The one-hour training teaches how to administer Naloxone and is free and open to the public.

Opioid overdose is reportedly the leading cause of accidental death in the country.