First Lady Melania Trump visits Huntington center for babies born with drug addiction

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HUNTINGTON, WV- On Tuesday, First Lady Melania Trump visited Huntington, West Virginia, with the specific purpose of visiting Lily's Place, an infant recovery center that helps families dealing with addiction.

It's the First Lady's first visit to a drug treatment center since her husband took office.

Lily's Place offers medical care to infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which occurs when newborns have been exposed to addictive substances during a mother's pregnancy.

The center also offers support, education, and counseling services to families and caregivers, per its website.

"To help babies born addicted truly succeed, we must help their parents succeed," the first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN when asked why Trump opted to spotlight infants.

Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a statistic described as a "dramatic increase."

The devastating opioid epidemic in the United States has only worsened in recent years, something President Donald Trump vowed to address on the campaign trail.

In March, the President signed an executive order establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

And in August, he instructed the administration "to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis."

A White House spokesman told CNN the status of the formal national emergency declaration is still in flux.

"The President's policy advisers are working through the details with all of the relevant components and agencies. Right now these actions are undergoing a legal review," he said.

However, since the creation of the President's Commission in March, the President has been regularly briefed on the topic, and in May signed off on a requested $500 million towards the opioid crisis in his 2018 Budget.

"The statistic that 40% of babies born addicted to drugs are put into foster care is one that Mrs. Trump would like to see lowered, and Lily's Place was created with that in mind," Grisham said. "They recognize that parents who are working hard to overcome addiction will encounter barriers and need support."

Melania Trump held her first solo policy roundtable discussion last month at the White House on the topic of addiction.

One of the attendees at the event was Rebecca Crowder, the executive director of Lily's Place.

Grisham confirmed the first lady learned about the existence of Lily's Place several months ago while researching and having conversations with experts about the opioid crisis.

Trump has said issues facing children will be the cornerstone of her official platform, including how they interact with the drug epidemic.

"Together, we must acknowledge that all too often it is the weakest, most innocent and vulnerable among us, our children, who ultimately suffer the most from the challenges that plague our societies," Trump said during a speech at the US Mission to the United Nations last month. "Whether it is drug addiction, bullying, poverty, disease, trafficking, illiteracy, or hunger, it is the children who are hit first and hardest in any country. And as we all know, the future of every nation rests with the promise of their young people."

Grisham added Trump also has an interest in helping remove the stigma and shame attached to drug use and recovery, another reason for her Tuesday visit.



 
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