When Angela Cicchino learned she was pregnant in 2019, she uncovered a whole new round of obstacles in her recovery from drug addiction that at that point had been underway for eight years.

It was life-changing news, and the delivery itself would end up being the result of an emergency C-section, meaning extra pain afterwards due to surgery.

"The right choice for me was to try to make it through without a narcotic," Cicchino told New Jersey 101.5.

The Toms River resident did exactly that, and she gives much of the credit to her network of support — family and friends — who were with her at all times.

"But, what does that look like for someone who doesn't have that support system?" Cicchino said.

As a manager for the Peer Recovery Program at RWJBarnabas Health, Cicchino has seen other stories similar to hers, as well as cases involving women who are struggling to kick their active drug habit after learning news of their pregnancy. Through the program, specialists who are in long-term recovery offer support and bedside intervention to individuals who are urgently dealing with substance abuse disorder.

For some pregnant women, the best route may be medication-assisted treatment. For others, a mommy-and-me program could do the trick.

"You kind of have to want it a little bit, in order for us to create this plan for them," Cicchino said.

Cicchino, 32, noted that the stigma surrounding substance abuse disorder is intensified when the matter involves a woman who's expecting. Because of that, moms-to-be may be more reluctant to seek help.

"My advice is that you don't have to do this alone, that there are people who can help, who understand," she said.

According to March of Dimes, an organization devoted to the health of mothers and babies, 5% of all moms-to-be abuse illicit drugs during pregnancy.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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