CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two years ago, Anna Fiscus was eight months pregnant and strung out on heroin, crack and methadone.
"I knew that if I was to go into labor right then and there, they were gonna take him from me," Fiscus said.
Addicted and alone, Fiscus had already lost custody of her three other children because of her disease.
She was in "desperate, desperate fear" that it would happen again.
This time, Fiscus decided to seek help. She was new to the Charlotte area, but she had heard about a treatment program called CASCADE, a long-term treatment facility for pregnant, postpartum and mom and their children.
She called, and they came to pick her up.
Fiscus' son was born addicted to methadone. He spent 6 days in the NICU fighting through his withdrawal symptoms.
"I wore my guilt like a cloud that followed me around," Fiscus recalls.
On Wednesday, her son is happy and healthy, and so is his mother. Fiscus shared her story of recovery to Gov. Roy Cooper, who came to CASCADE to see the work being done there on a daily basis.
"You've got two lives affected," Cooper said.
In this country, a baby is born with opioid withdrawal every 25 minutes.
In North Carolina, four people die every day from substance use disorder, a statistic Cooper calls "unacceptable."
Cooper said he wants to see more treatment facilities across the state, more beds for people in need, more variety of the treatment options available -- and above all else -- wider insurance coverage.
"Almost half of the people in North Carolina who suffer from overdose and come to the emergency room are uncovered by any kind of insurance," Cooper said.
He believes that makes it challenging, and in some cases, impossible for someone in need to receive access to long-term quality care.
Fiscus agrees there are not enough resources available.
"This is a huge epidemic," she said. "People die every day. Hundreds, thousands of people are dying every day in the United States because of this disease and there aren't, unfortunately, enough beds or enough resources at any given time."
Fiscus will go home and sleep in her own bed, with her son by her side. She has full custody of him and will celebrate two years of being clean later this month.
She considers herself and her son, the lucky ones.
"I just treasure every moment," Fiscus says with a smile. "It's an amazing gift."
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