Formerly Addicted Mom Turns Life Around to Help Son
Once a heroin user, now clean with clinic's help
ANCHORAGE - Rita Hazen’s 13-month-old son Robert is bubbling with life and just a few weeks from taking his first steps.
But life could be very different for the both of them if Hazen hadn’t made some serious changes.
“When I became pregnant with Robert, he was my angel, he saved me,” said Hazen.
“I was really addicted to painkillers and I started dabbling in heroin… I was an IV drug user for about four years,” she said.
Hazen was two months pregnant with Robert when she entered a methadone program in Anchorage.
“We have people who’ve been on the waiting list for a year, year and a half, and pregnant people get to jump them,” said Ron Greene, the clinical director at the Center for Drug Problems.
“We don't mess around with pregnant woman; we understanding we are dealing with two lives,” said Greene.
Hazen is one of more than 200 women the center has treated over the past six years.
"I just knew I had to stop I could not be that selfish person anymore -- I refused to be that selfish person,” said Hazen.
She says the process was hard, but she was reminded every day why she needed to get clean.
"I could feel my baby growing and I would go to the ultrasound and have pictures done of him.”
The Office of Children's Services said it receives numerous calls from across the state every month from doctors who suspect a mother is using.
“It's definitely worrisome that babies are born addicted to drugs because it does a lot of damage to their bodies and they have to typically get on drugs to detox off whatever drug that they're on," said Kim Guay, the child welfare administrator with the OCS.
The OCS tries to work with moms who give birth to their children while addicted to drugs, but if the child is considered to be in danger, it will be taken away.
But Hazen says it doesn't have to be that way, because help is prioritized for pregnant woman.
"So if you're pregnant you can get right in and there's no reason not to reach out for that help,” said Hazen.
Another place in Anchorage where help can be found is Akeela, which has a residential drug treatment program aimed at pregnant women and women with children.