In 2000, Vanessa Lyle found out she was pregnant with her third child while attempting to enter a detoxification program in Maryland. Luckily, a nearby facility for new and expecting mothers had an open bed, and she was able to transfer there and get on methadone maintenance during her pregnancy. Unfortunately, it would not be the last time she used opioids.
According to Marian Bland, the Deputy Director of Clinical Services at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Behavioral Health Administration, Maryland has several programs that cater to the unique needs of mothers, but many fill up quickly. This access issue is nationwide, but Bland believes that the Governor’s recent authorization of funding for program expansions will help to alleviate it in Maryland. Many women, she says, struggle with entering treatment because of their family relationships and obligations.
Throughout her drug use, treatment, and incarceration, Vanessa’s family was able to care for her children, and she technically never lost custody of them. She was, however, what she refers to as a “non-parent” until she was able to quit her habit for good a few years after her youngest was born. During the residential portion of her recovery, she did benefit from a program where her daughter was allowed to stay with her.
Vanessa says people in residential treatment often bond, but that it’s important for women to stay in touch with their familial responsibilities and support as they move through recovery. Bland agrees, and says that a priority for the state should always be to keep families together.
Footage courtesy of: Vanessa Lyle