For Danielle Rideout, the massive increase in the number of drug-affected babies in Maine – largely blamed on the state’s opiate crisis – is not only a disturbing trend, but a reminder of her personal history.
Rideout, 31, was addicted to heroin when she became pregnant with her first child in 2007.
“I rolled out of bed and got high,” said Rideout, originally from Chebeague Island but now a Yarmouth resident. Rideout said she started using marijuana and alcohol as a teenager, and her addictions progressed until she became a heroin addict in her 20s.
Rideout was a panelist Wednesday at a daylong “Substance Abuse and Pregnancy” conference at the Seasons Event and Conference Center in Portland. LePage administration officials, alarmed at a spike in drug-affected babies, hosted the conference so that experts in a number of areas could discuss ways to help alleviate the problem.
The number of drug-affected babies has soared from 178 in 2006 to 995 in 2015, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Of the 995, 87 percent were born to women who were addicted to heroin, prescription opiates or methadone, DHHS officials said Wednesday.
Rideout said she was able to get into a treatment program when she was pregnant, and her baby was