KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The opioid epidemic has continued to take lives every single day across Knox County. 31 people died from suspected overdoses in April, which makes 88 suspected overdose deaths so far in 2019, according to the District Attorney's office.
Rachel Solomon, a Knoxville resident, used to be one of those caught up in the epidemic.
She started using opioids when she was just 14 years old. Over the years, her addiction continued and grew into her 30s.
And she said she had no intention of stopping until she received a life-changing surprise more than one year ago.
That surprise is named Brantley.
Baby Brantley is full of joy. At one glance, this seven-month-old can light up a room.
“He's amazing. He's amazing. He's my little miracle,” Solomon said. “I didn't know another love until Brantley came along.”
The thought of his smile, his eyes and the hope of his future helped save a life before he was even born.
“I loved opioids since the beginning. That was the first drug I tried,” Solomon explained. “I loved the feeling it gave me.”
But she managed to keep it all together, for a time.
“I was managing while I was using pills... and when I went to heroin I lost everything. My apartment... my kids.. my familiy... my freedom,” Solomon said.
After losing it all, Solomon had a different kind of life-changing moment.
“I got pregnant. And really didn't know what I was going to do,” Solomon said. “It was either you keep using and you lose your baby or you change right now and you can have a better life.”
Treatment During Pregnancy
At three and a half months pregnant, Solomon chose to get clean and entered a treatment program with UT Medical.
Solomon’s doctor, Dr. Craig Towers, see's hundreds of patients like this each year.
“I have a different program than many doctors do in the country, where patients can come in for prenatal care and get off of street drugs with a stabilized medicated treatment program," Towers explained said. “Technically, the risk of staying on opioids throughout the pregnancy is a risk to the baby. And the risk of getting off is more of a risk to the mother, so I let the mother make the decision. She makes the choice.”
After several months of treatment and behavioral therapy, Solomon had a successful pregnancy and birth. Both her and her baby Brantley are happy and healthy, together.
Solomon finished her treatment and is now doing well.
“She's done. She's great. It's patients like her that make this all worthwhile,” Dr. Towers explained.
This precious new life restored her own, Solomon said.
“It's good. It's a good feeling," she said. "I never thought that I would ever be happy without drugs. And now I can't imagine going back to that."