Woman Kicks Opioid Addiction To Become A Better Mother

Bristol, VA- Three years ago, after being addicted to drugs for 7 years, Jessica Henard, 27, found out she was going to be a first-time mother.

Just after she married William Henard, she had gotten caught up in some trouble with the law. Jessica was charged with grand larceny while using drugs with her new husband.

Three months before she went to prison, she discovered her new pregnancy with her first son, Gabriel. She was hooked on opioids for the first month of her trimester while she was still unaware; but when she found out, she stopped.

She served her time while pregnant, and gave birth during her incarceration. Returning to prison the next day after having her baby, she gave Gabriel to her mother and father to raise him.

Jessica said that giving up her newborn was the most difficult thing she has ever done in her life.

“There wasn’t really much I could do besides pray for her,” her mother said. “It broke my heart that she was [going to] jail and [had been in] prison. ... That was hard, too, to take the baby from its mama and knowing it would break her heart, but he needed it.”

When Jessica was released from prison in the Fall of 2015, she returned to opioid use within 14 days. It was then that she had lost all custody of her 18 month old son to her mother.

After losing custody of their child, in November 2015, Jessica’s husband committed suicide; then the couple split.

She then returned to prison for another 6 months.

When she was released in July 2016, she was sent to Highlands Community Services to receive treatment for her substance abuse issues. After gaining her sobriety, she proved to be a fit mother, regaining her custody of Gabriel.

Jessica owes the success of her sobriety to the incredible treatment center she attended in Bristol, Virginia.

“The first step is, honestly, reaching out,” she said. “If you don’t reach out, you’re not going to get any help. They [mothers] can all go down the same exact path I did.”

She is now a single mother, living a sober lifestyle, and working on her new start in life.

While Jessica attended treatment, she worked with Teresa Viers, the program director at the center.

“Jessica’s done phenomenal,” she said. “We’re all very proud of her progress. ... That’s the piece that makes this job worthwhile.”

In three months, Jessica will finally graduate drug court.

“She has a family,” Houser said. “She’s stable. She just makes me proud. She really does. She’s an awesome mama.”

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