Task force says pill addiction among pregnant women urgent issue

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A big ad campaign focused on prescription pills and newborns is among the recommendations issued Monday by a state task force that was formed to tackle the problem.

The task found that the number of babies born with drugs in their system has more than tripled in Central Florida since 2007.

Baby Aiden was born two weeks ago, small at 5 pounds 11 ounces, but healthy. His mother, Danielle Quinn, said she knows he is lucky. Quinn is recovering from an addiction to oxycodone, a drug she abused for five months of her pregnancy.

"You know you have this life inside of you, but no matter how bad you don't want to do it, you can't help it," said Quinn.

Quinn and her baby live at the Center for Drug Free Living's Women's Residential Center while receiving treatment.

Having more centers like the Center for Drug Free Living was another recommendation made by the state task force. That task force spent the last year focused on prescription-drug abuse and newborns.

The Center for Drug Free Living can house 30 women at a time. Almost every room also has a crib in it. In fact, almost every woman at the center is either pregnant or has had a baby in the last year.

Latest numbers from the state show that more than 1,500 babies were born with drugs in their system in Florida in 2011. It cost an average of $53,000 to treat each of those babies. Most of that money came from state Medicaid programs.

Experts said it is a problem that has been widely underreported.

"There is a huge addiction problem here in central Florida, and there aren't enough resources available," said Lin Lindsay with the Center for Drug Free Living.

Lindsay said finding the money to back up the state's recommendations is the biggest challenge, but it is a challenge that has to be met. She said moms like Danielle are proof programs like hers work.

"Since I had my son, I don't want to do any drug ever again. That's my motivation," said Quinn.