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It was during that time that she gave birth to her first daughter, whom she named Shelby, and whom she lost custody of to her own mother, Shelby's grandmother."An addiction is stronger than a mother's love for her children," Christy says."The rise of the opioid epidemic has caught communities and hospitals off-guard," says Stephen Patrick, a health-policy researcher who studies drug-using moms and their children at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.PATHways shows what's possible in dealing with an epidemic that's increasingly involving new mothers and infants.It's unclear how many programs like PATHways exist in the United States.Agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration didn't answer requests for such numbers; in any case, every expert I contacted thought that data doesn't exist. "[PATHways is] doing some really nice, trauma-informed, non-blaming, family-empowering kind of care, which is just incredibly laudable. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, the first major piece of addiction legislation in America in decades, authorized 1 million in new funding every year to combat substance use disorders, including programs for pregnant women.

Despite the popular rhetoric about drug users "hitting rock bottom" and then turning their lives around, that's not the reality for many. "I just thought about myself." Over the next decade, however, Christy slowly started making progress.Ryleigh likes bananas and prunes and watching television, the latter of which is exactly what she's doing during one of my calls with Christy. I've got everything I need for my kids," Christy says.As we talk Ryleigh sits in her high chair, Christy on her recliner. "If it wasn't for that program, I wouldn't have all this." Shelby, who lives in a neighboring city, often visits too.One mother Reuters interviewed accidentally smothered her baby in her sleep after taking two prescribed opioids and a Xanax.None of the new parents in Reuters' cases were reported to child protection services before they were discharged from the hospital.

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