LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — More than 650 people have died since 2021 from opioid-related deaths, 237 of which were women, according to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

8 News Now looked into how the opioid epidemic impacts expecting mothers and a program geared towards helping them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the drug epidemic is growing in the U.S., especially among women.

When a pregnant woman is using drugs it not only poses a direct threat to an unborn baby but could also play a huge influence on that baby to start using drugs later in life, according to experts.

A program at Roseman University could stop the cycle.

Erin Migliara is eight months pregnant, and was using drugs around the time she realized she was pregnant. She is hoping the program will help assist her at this crucial time in life.

“I was honest with my doctor from the getgo and told her I was on heroin, she recommended I come here,” she said.

The empowered program assists pregnant women by easing them off of drugs with therapy and medical aid.

Migliara is doing her best to stay clean at the program, however, her drug use stems from an early age.

“When I was 15 I had a best friend we would sneak out and her mom took a lot of Vicodin, and we would steal her pills then it turned into we needed more,” Migliara said.

Farzad Kaymar, a psychiatrist for the empowered program said drug use often comes with a stigma.

“Oftentimes folks are using to get high or feel euphoria, but that feeling goes away and it’s just to be functioning,” Kaymar added.

He also said drug overdose ends up being the leading cause of death for women who are of reproductive age.

“Exposure to opioids can lead to low birth weight, premature birth, potentially fetal loss,” Kaymar said.

If a pregnant woman continued drug use, the baby would potentially go into withdrawal after birth.

“Then there is the generational stuff being at risk of future substance use,” Kaymar added.

Quintella Whimbush had been in recovery for 12 years and now she is helping other women through the program which she said has helped her stay clean.

“As long as you have hope you have a life, and as long as you are breathing you have a chance,” she told 8 News Now.

As for Migliara, she tells 8 News Now she is taking her recovery day by day.

“I’ll take a couple of bad days than a lifetime of hell,” she expressed.

The Empowered program through Roseman University is free and available for anyone living in the Las Vegas area, for pregnant and postpartum women.