DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Every 25 minutes a baby is born addicted to opioids. That's according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A new local facility will work to break that cycle and aims to help pregnant women and new moms.
The new facility will be located in DeFuniak Springs on Highway 90 and it is something county leaders say is needed.
"We've not been able to help folks in this manner and it's a critical step in treatment to be able to have this opportunity to just live away from the temptations and it's something you need," Chautauqua Healthcare Services Chief Executive Officer Rachel Gillis said.
About a year ago, Walton County identified one of it's greatest health concerns is the high number of babies being born to drug-addicted mothers.
Now, officials at Chautauqua Healthcare Services hope to help these families by creating this new treatment facility.
"Our agency decided we would build this facility, even though we didn't have the money already raised to do it, we went ahead and built this facility knowing the community would support it anyways," Gillis said. "All these children are being born and we didn't want to wait for the time to raise the money."
One of only two women's residential treatment facilities of its kind in the Panhandle, the residential program will have up to 15 beds for women and children under the age of three.
It will help the women break free from their drug or alcohol addiction while providing them with training for jobs and life skills.
"We are allowing these mothers to come back and learn how to be moms. So many of them didn't learn that and they want to be a good mother. Everyone wants to be a good mother," Gillis said. "We're giving them an opportunity to learn how to parent and learn how to be positive and this house will give them an opportunity to do that, give them a do-over."
Funding to operate comes from a contract from the state, but the initial construction was provided by CHS.
The facility is still under construction. Officials say all that's missing is furnishings for the inside.
"It is a big step for the community. The community has not had anything to provide services like this ever and I believe that it's going to make a very big impact," Gillis said.
Program participants will have to be able to stay for up to a year and receive additional help after leaving.
Gillis also said they hope to open the doors within the next few weeks.