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IA Mothers & Kids Exposed to Drugs
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- The battle against substance abuse has been a long one for Ginger Smith.
"Yeah for my whole life, pretty much since I was 14," Smith said.
Smith, now 41, has faced an uphill climb against addiction.
It was a climb that was made tougher as a single mother raising children.
"They never knew when to trust me or whether I was drinking or using," Smith said.
Her children are grown up now, and Smith says they're doing well, but not every child that grows up around a substance abusing mother is as fortunate.
"They're exposed emotionally, they're exposed in terms of their living environment," said Wanda Mokry Sellers with Heart of Iowa.
Mokry-Sellers and Heart of Iowa is dedicated to helping mothers beat the addiction, which is an issue for expectant mothers as well.
Iowa Watch says as many as 2,500 children in Iowa could be exposed to illegal drugs in the womb every year.
Two places with the most drug exposure -- Linn and Black Hawk counties. Between 2003 and 2011, more than 1,100 babies were born with drugs in their systems in each county.
Heart of Iowa does what they can to help.
"At least they're in a protected environment where they can't use...we can't change the past but we can do that much. Mokry Sellers said.
Dr. Resmiye Oral with University of Iowa hospitals say they've also made some strides since 2006, because back then things were different.
"Many birthing hospitals didn't have screening tools and test methodologies," Dr. Oral said.
However, new protocols she and other doctors started worked shortly after 2006 gave hospitals more resources.
"Human manpower, basically, in the prenatal clinic, who had time to spend with pregnant woman," Dr. Oral said.
As a result over the past few years, more mothers are being helped through their issues, rather than remaining in hiding.
Smith herself is no longer hiding. Now in rehab and 60 days sober, the new grandmother says others shouldn't be afraid to ask for a helping hand.
"Just get the help, suck it up and do it...cause it's worth it," Smith said.
Dr. Oral says some women are afraid to come forward for help because they're afraid of being arrested. However, she assures nobody can file a police report because a pregnant mother or a mother that just gave birth tested positive for drugs.