The medical field is seeing more and more babies born to mothers addicted to prescription drugs. The problem has reached epidemic proportions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the biggest news is that it is causing several organizations to reevaluate how it treats these tiny patients.
Despite a decline in the use of street drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, the numbers for prescription drug abuse is drastically rising. Nearly seven million people were reportedly abusing painkillers, according to a 2010 survey on drug use and health.
Deadly overdoses from prescription drugs have also tripled. In the past decade, some reports have been able to show that the number of infants born addicted to drugs has more than tripled during that time. The sheer number of infants born showing signs of withdrawal syndrome is saddening. There were 1,374 cases in 2010 in Florida compared to only 354 in 2006.
From a government standpoint, elected officials like Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, are asking for special task forces to be established to track the numbers. Bondi fears this epidemic could reach the same status as heroin did in the 1970s and crack and cocaine did in the 1980s.
Establishing a system to understand the numbers of those affected by this and how to treat the addiction are the only way to save the children. Until now, there has been no clear way to collect data as it relates to the numbers of infants born with prescription drugs in their systems. But the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other health organizations know there is a problem and are looking at ways to help.
Another factor in the equation is when addicted and expectant mothers should begin receiving treatment. The effects a pregnant mother would go through from withdrawal could drastically affect their unborn child. The fetus could also experience withdrawal in the womb and suffer from seizures which can cause a miscarriage. And that’s only if an expectant mom admits she has a problem. Many women hide their addiction from their doctors in fear of losing their child at birth.
A treatment center in Maine has been working with these mothers. Unlike quitting other drugs, addictions to opiates are more difficult: the mental side effects can last a lifetime. Recovery can be tough – and drawn-out – but through this therapy, it seems many of the children are born with little to no withdrawal effects.